Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Internet and Social Media Dominate U.S. National and International News Viewing

The latest round of national media polling released prior to the State of the Union document the growing shift of Americans to non-traditional media.  One-half of the respondents in the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll said they have a profile on Facebook or Linkedin.  In the same poll, cable channels dominate network for news of politics and current events (48% cable to 36% network).  And, a major irritant to Democratic partisans, Fox News dominates the cable marketplace.

The Pew Research Center’s latest research affirms the change in the public’s source of national and international news. The Internet is becoming increasingly competitive with television as America’s main source of news. As the Pew chart shows, television has declined from 82 percent in 2000 to 65 percent of the news marketplace in 2010.

Also during the last decade, the Internet audience for national and international news tripled from 13 percent in 2000 to 41 percent today. Newspapers that were cited by one-half the public as their news source in as recently as 2003 have dropped to 31 percent today. Radio, including talk radio, has remained stable at 16 percent.

Among people under 30 years old, the Internet beats television as their main source of national and international news.  Also, college graduates are now nearly as likely to depend on the Internet for news as television.

As other polls show, cable beats broadcast news, although even cable TV has declined from a high of 44 percent in 2002 to 36 percent now.

In a demonstration of this new media reality, the Michele Bachmann response to the State of the Union got more coverage than the official Republican response, at least partially because it powerfully used non-traditional media. It was developed for the Tea Party website to be streamed on the Internet, then was broadcast live on CNN and went viral on political websites among her friends and foes. Cable and radio talk shows made it a major topic and, finally, it was considered of sufficient news value to make broadcast (albeit largely in the context of possible divisions among the Republicans). Today, a major political speech must be accompanied by Internet postings from bloggers, video, Facebook, Twitter and circulation among all the available cable and radio talk shows.

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