Internet overtakes newspapers as primary source of news

posted at 2:55 pm on January 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

If you didn’t already realize this was coming, you’ve probably been on a desert island since 1999.  According to Pew Research, more people got their national and international news from the Internet rather than newspapers for the first time since polling began on this question in 2001.  The bad news is that television still far outranks either:

The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as an outlet for national and international news.

Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%.

For young people, however, the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%).

The Internet “emerged” this year as a leading source for campaign news?  Hardly.  The Internet got a 24% rating in 2004, the last presidential cycle, which was the real “emergence” of the medium.  In fact, the percentages dipped slightly after the last presidential election cycle, rebounding back to 24% only last year before rapidly increasing to 40% this year.

However, don’t pop the champagne corks just yet.  The Internet is a medium, not a provider, and the shift doesn’t represent a rejection of traditional news organizations as much as a preference for delivery.  People want on-demand news and interactive experiences in order to free themselves as much as possible from the decisions of editors and producers on publication priority.  They use the Internet to access a wide variety of resources, including those which had been accessed only by newsprint or broadcast a decade ago.

Will television have the same problems with their economic model in the future as newspapers do now?  Perhaps, unless they can translate advertising revenues seamlessly to their on-line sites.  It seems obvious that as broadband becomes more and more available, traditional spoon-fed delivery of news will fall farther and farther out of favor.  Those news organizations that can adapt will thrive, while those that cannot …. will probably demand bailouts.

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people are getting alot of their info today from message boards and google searches. Alot of that info are lies and propaganda, so I’m skeptical on if this turns out to be a good thing.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 2:57 PM

It would be intersting to know what percentage of TV is cable. I would bet cable/internet beats network/newspapers.

Also, where’s radio?

Rocks on January 7, 2009 at 2:59 PM

This is how markets evolve and shift. It’s inexorable.

If Pajamas Media is as smart as it appears to be, it should work extra hard to push itself to the forefront of ‘net credibility.

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Well, what could the newspapers expect, since they drove so many of us away?

DL13 on January 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

People who want serious news will rely more and more on the net (where the liberal filter can be avoided). Those who insist in being entertained will stay with the boob tube.

perroviejo on January 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Alot of that info are lies and propaganda, so I’m skeptical on if this turns out to be a good thing.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 2:57 PM

They replace one source of propaganda and lies for another.
Not a good thing, but not a bad thing. At least the option of finding other information exists. As opposed to the previous situation.

MarkTheGreat on January 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

#1 Intertubes
#2 Radio
#3 Newspaper
#4 tv (very occasionally, only if I want to see good video, such as the opening of the Israeli-Hamas/Gaza war)

rbj on January 7, 2009 at 3:02 PM

jp on January 7, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Personally, I enjoy sifting through the google searches and comparing different reports of the same news. In the time it takes me to give my $.50 to the guy at the counter, I can be looking at 20 different headlines from 20 different sources, with varying slants and angles.

So, I lean towards optimism – but I certainly understand your skepticism, given the ’08 Obama candidacy.

LibertyBoyNYC on January 7, 2009 at 3:04 PM

This internet thing will never last…besides there are no real “reporters” on the internet…signed by the NYT.

right2bright on January 7, 2009 at 3:04 PM

But how much of the news gleamed from the Internet is merely the electronic version of a newspaper or the newscopy read on the six o’clock news?

jerryofva on January 7, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Hopefully people are getting them from more reputable web outlets. I would shiver to think that Americans are informing themselves on current events through 4chan.

amerpundit on January 7, 2009 at 3:06 PM

Shut down the fishwrap factories now , they’re killing the forest .

the_nile on January 7, 2009 at 3:06 PM

jerryofva on January 7, 2009 at 3:05 PM

A good point. I might not read one of my local print paper but I do check the website for the paper.

amerpundit on January 7, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Since when do most newspapers provide news? Most of what I see is frothing adoration for everything liberal.

Bishop on January 7, 2009 at 3:09 PM

The people have spoken.

locomotivebreath1901 on January 7, 2009 at 3:12 PM

What are the demographics for those whose primary news source is television?

My bet is that they are heavily tilted towards the 60+ population, which means in 20 years, TV news might as well call it quits.

I can read on the internet the news I’m interested in, in 5 minutes, whereas TV broadcasts do a lousy job of it in 30 minutes.

NoDonkey on January 7, 2009 at 3:12 PM

You can’t wrap your fish’n'chips in a web page

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Personally, I enjoy sifting through the google searches and comparing different reports of the same news.

The problem is that google is run by very liberal folks. They have a history of blocking sites from their search engine if the sites have a traditional conservative viewpoint.

pannw on January 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM

my problem with the internet is the fact the Dems and our Enemies abroad are “astroturfing” forums everywhere, our enemies abroad are posing as Americans and pushing whichever candidate pushes their agenda(which is a weaker United States).

In addition to that, there are lot of nutters and alot of their views are on the internet, and are given more play than they ever got in the past.

Point is, the odds are most people(not us with a political IQ and understand what is at play) but the average Joe’s are more than likely to be reading Anti-GOP AND anti-American influenced Crap, than not.

we’ll see how things ‘evolve’

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM

You can’t wrap your fish’n’chips in a web page

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:13 PM

Then you buy apples iWrap.

the_nile on January 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM

Nothing to see here. Move along. Keep moving.
Tribune/Times/Post

oakpack on January 7, 2009 at 3:16 PM

The problem is that google is run by very liberal folks. They have a history of blocking sites from their search engine if the sites have a traditional conservative viewpoint.

pannw on January 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM

add to that that Pro-Jihad and anti-american forces on youtube get away with posting their propaganda, but then anti-Jihad, Robert Spencer type videos get banned as “hate speach”.

also, Dan Rather video on Letterman few days after 9/11 when he calls for us to Invade Iraq and settle scores was removed from Youtube. CBS claimed it was over copyright issues, while leaving every other Letterman video up.

there are alot of liberal bias on the big internet sites to point to examples on here.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:17 PM

There is more crap on the internet than any trad media outlet could put out.

Much as I enjoy net news, 95% of it is garbage. On a good day. Much of the 5% is lifted from trad media. And that leaves a fraction of 1% which is good analysis and citizen journalism

Ares on January 7, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Money Quote:

People want on-demand news and interactive experiences in order to free themselves as much as possible from the decisions of editors and producers on publication priority

Watching broadcast TV news you realize that you already know what the news is.

I just despise, and refuse to tolerate, the interruptions for commercial breaks, and the teasers, “wait until you hear whats next”, screw the wait, why can’t you tell me now.

Skandia Recluse on January 7, 2009 at 3:20 PM

also, I say the move away from Bush/GOP by the Youth vote(more than normal) we’ve seen has alot to do with the Internet, more so than Jon Stewart and MTV even.

I’d wager that most young, hip, college kid as watched or been fwd’d from a friend to watch, a free copy of “Loose Change” for example.

It’ll be very very interesting to see what happens with a Democrat Government in the era of the Internet. With everything on tape and recorded, with focus on them.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:21 PM

And that leaves a fraction of 1% which is good analysis and citizen journalism

Ares on January 7, 2009 at 3:18 PM

I don’t know about your figures, but I concur in a general sense with what you are emphasizing.

The winners will be those that deliver quality content at net-speed to enable regular folk to tune out the mindless babble.

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:24 PM

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Absolutely. YouTube is awful and DIGG…ugh..The radical leftists bury anything that isn’t to their ideological liking.

pannw on January 7, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Hard copy is obsolete. It can’t update, it’s not instant, its text and photos are out-gunned by web options, and its coupons are no match for online coupons. The only upsides for print media are perfume samples and gerbil bedding.

Mark30339 on January 7, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Much as I enjoy net news, 95% of it is garbage. On a good day. Much of the 5% is lifted from trad media. And that leaves a fraction of 1% which is good analysis and citizen journalism

Ares on January 7, 2009 at 3:18 PM

as elitist as this can sound, the problem is most people can’t distinguish between the garbage and the legit news, especially the well disguised garbage. Aside from the time and interest needed to become a political and current events junkie, some people are just gullible.

I think its a make or break decade for America thanks in part to the Information Age, we’ll see how it plays out I suppose. May the “Force” be with Hotair and like minded sites.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:25 PM

For me it’s by far the Internet, and HotAir, Ace, PowerLine, and The Corner are to thank.

The Dean on January 7, 2009 at 3:25 PM

The radical leftists bury anything that isn’t to their ideological liking.

pannw on January 7, 2009 at 3:24 PM

The Internet allows a glimpse at the rampant ugliness of democracy…and these liberal fascists exploit that to its fullest.

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:27 PM

All this means is people are reading CNN and The New York Times (15th and 25 most-visited websites in the United States, respectively) online, rather than watching the same content on television or buying the newspaper.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 3:28 PM

also, alot of the forces behind the rEVOLution, were anti-American in disguise. They are trying to ruin the GOP from ever governing or holding any power again. Note how easily they skewed Online polls.

There are “reform the GOP” websites that basically say all GOP leaders are evil neocons and its only Ron Paul and his policies that are “true conservative” and in the mold of “Reagan and Goldwater”. Upside down world, but these guys will go out of their way to bash Republicans and either praise Obama OR softly criticize him and say “He’s really just like the neo-cons’

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:31 PM

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 3:28 PM

Of course people view the sites of the ‘big media’, but they’re also exposed to far more alternative sites that present better information. The old guard has lost their stranglehold on the information stream.

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 3:32 PM

People under 25 get all their news online and cable. Only problem is the source for the news is 99% liberal junk like DailyKos and Daily Show/Colbert which the kiddie think is actual news and not commentary.

I’d rather have ABC, CBS and the NY Times a 60/40 liberal split on thew news than DailyKos and Jon Stewart giving 100% liberal tilt.

This might be one of those situations where we got what we wished for – the death of the Old Media – and will wish we hadn’t wished for it.

angryed on January 7, 2009 at 3:38 PM

All this means is people are reading CNN and The New York Times (15th and 25 most-visited websites in the United States, respectively) online, rather than watching the same content on television or buying the newspaper.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 3:28 PM

So everyone who has eschewed the NYT hard copy has switched to their website, and nothing else? Pfft.

You are amusing, bunny shaker.

hillbillyjim on January 7, 2009 at 3:44 PM

I can’t even remember the last time I turned on the TV…and I gave up the newspaper even longer ago than that.

So I’m with the majority! Yay!

Bob's Kid on January 7, 2009 at 3:46 PM

problem with Stewart is that the kids “like” him, he makes them laugh. Liberal news anchors don’t do that, Stewart or Bill Maher seem “cool” to them.

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

jp on January 7, 2009 at 3:49 PM

I’m sure Huck can trot out a few bible-approved “knock knock” jokes.

He could wear jeans too.

That wouldn’t be lame at all.

LimeyGeek on January 7, 2009 at 4:01 PM

Another grim milestone for the MSM.

jeff_from_mpls on January 7, 2009 at 4:03 PM

pannw on January 7, 2009 at 3:15 PM

Yes, of course, you and I know of media bias and many people don’t. I might have to go 2 search pages deep in order to get what I’m after. But the opportunity is there. If I had to rely on the NYT or the NYDN from the guy on the corner, I’d be in a world of hurt.

Which means that right reputable sydicators and bloggers have nothing but the opportunity to grow.

I know Hope ain’t do it. Misery won’t, either. Thus, I comment here.

I don’t frequent lefty blogs or papers. Why feed the Monster?

LibertyBoyNYC on January 7, 2009 at 4:08 PM

Newspapers and the Internet usually overlap these days. You’ll find the same articles in both, but it’s the medium that’s different. The field has expected convergence for a decade.

Sign of the Dollar on January 7, 2009 at 4:09 PM

I know Hope ain’t do it.

Pardon, Hope ain’t doin’ it, and won’t do it.

LibertyBoyNYC on January 7, 2009 at 4:10 PM

Conservatives need to organize arount the net moreso.

Look at that trend.

The talking head dopes on network tv will be toast in 3 to 4 years, thank god.

We can’t let MoronicMarkos be the alternative.

notagool on January 7, 2009 at 4:41 PM

lets get rid of the TV as a ‘trusted’ source and we can call that progress

gatorboy on January 7, 2009 at 4:43 PM

Newspapers are going down. Next target – television.

Vashta.Nerada on January 7, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Too bad the internet is more liberal than conservative. Newspapers die, the internet takes its place as a source for reading, but the ideological bias remains.

keep the change on January 7, 2009 at 5:57 PM

All this means is people are reading CNN and The New York Times (15th and 25 most-visited websites in the United States, respectively) online, rather than watching the same content on television or buying the newspaper.

benny shakar on January 7, 2009 at 3:28 PM

You keep whistling past the graveyard with that thought. I was privileged enough to spend time with some of the founders of and early contributors to Newseum. These are very bright men — much more fair minded than you might presume. These guys were making an earnest attempt at saving papers through technology. They admitted openly that they were all late to the game.

Newspapers document history. It was impossible for many to believe that they could be victims of it.

The problem with newspaper culture at the top of the food chain is not so much the bias. (I believe bias is much more prevalent among editors and reporters.) Rather it is the absolute inability to adjust to technological changes. Many papers profit margins were so high for so long basically because they didn’t pay for new technology.

When I was in reporting, my boss and editors were floored when I was using digital recorders and files, instead of tape, to transcribe interviews. The computers upon which I would file articles were older than my kids. The focus on newsprint was tragic and unwavering for so long. There were actually arguments about whether or not to allow interactivity on the paper’s message boards? WTF? What is a message board without comments? If typewriters were feasible, they would have used those.

That being said, Tribune, Gannet and other papers are successful online, but that success does not outweigh the hemorrhaging taking place in their brick-and-mortar outfits.

Pretty soon, NYT, LAT, WP, etc will be losing thousands of readers to sites like HotAir, Politico, HuffPo, even Yahoo…and the aggregate king Drudge. If Craigslist ever starts delivering news…forget it.

Presumably Benny, you have no say in how papers address their current plummet. That’s good. Because I don’t want to see the demise of the press. Our founders thought enough of a free press to protect in our First Amendment.

Here’s a newspaper guy who just might get it.

The Race Card on January 7, 2009 at 7:06 PM

The field has expected convergence for a decade.

Sign of the Dollar on January 7, 2009 at 4:09 PM

People expect babies for 9 months. Still, some have no name at birth.

The Race Card on January 7, 2009 at 7:08 PM

The field has expected convergence for a decade.

Sign of the Dollar on January 7, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Yet, up until recently most big-ass-papers were afraid, if not unwilling to scoop their print editions with their websites.

This is only an opinion. Sites like RealClearPolitics during elections and fantasy leauge/sports fanatics helped them see the folly of this.

The Race Card on January 7, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Finally: Internet overtakes newspapers as primary source of news

FTFY

My collie says:

No need to thank us. Just bein’ neighborly.

CyberCipher on January 7, 2009 at 7:38 PM

jerryofva on January 7, 2009 at 3:05 PM

This is precisely what is wrong with the current business model of most TV station websites, particularly at the local level. It’s unfortunate b/c I think TV more than newspapers is in a better position to profit from the shift to Internet, simply because they can provide video. They are also in a position to learn from the mistakes that newspapers have made in their online business models, since newspapers have been far ahead of TV in that respect for many years. Still even in spite of all of this, in the face of eroding on-air revenues, this golden goose known as the TV station website sits in their newsrooms unembraced, underutilized, and understaffed. It’s a shame really — I think Internet is the only way TV news can hope to survive in the future but TV seems stubbornly or ignorantly unable to marry the two media.

Personally I think Pajamas TV is exactly the direction that TV news will take in the future. Instead of being centralized into a single station or network, it will be a looser network of individuals each producing their own packs and uploading them to a website where they can be viewed on demand. It will no longer be spoon fed to us; we won’t have to sit through a boring story about the city council in order to get to a juicier one (or to the weather report which, other than local sports scores, is the REAL reason people still watch TV news). We can choose the stories we want to watch. Reporters with the chops and the ambition to go out and consistently get the good stories, to really INVESTIGATE, will get more streams and will (ostensibly) get paid accordingly for their effort. We might actually get some quality news instead of some of the slop that passes for it today. It will be capitalism at its finest.

NoLeftTurn on January 8, 2009 at 1:02 AM

I only watch TV news for the legs.

- The Cat

MirCat on January 8, 2009 at 2:54 AM

Hey Morrissey! The TV mavens are already in trouble dude. In the usually critical 18-29 demographic, tv viewing is now tied with internet viewing at 59%. I would bet at the 13-18 demo they don’t even know what a channel selector is on a TV. More details — http://thirdpipe.com/2008/12/30/the-news-is-in-pulp-passed-by/

Dr. Dog on January 8, 2009 at 1:46 PM