The cyber world is gaining in popularity as more people now depend on it as a source of news.
In fact, the internet is now the most popular source of news after TV, according to the Pew Research Centre for People and the Press, which released its year-end roundup of news media consumption last week.
While TV is still considered the biggest source for breaking news, its steady decline in the face of internet competition bodes ill in the long term.
In 2008, 40 per cent of the respondents said they got most of their national and international news from the net, versus 35 per cent from newspapers in 2008. The internet's share is up from 24 per cent in 2007, while newspaper ratings also increased slightly, from 34 per cent. The long-term trend is even clearer – the internet's share has more than tripled from 13 per cent in 2001, while newspapers fell by almost a quarter – from 45 per cent in those six years. [The figures add up to more than 100 per cent because Pew accepted multiple responses to account for ambiguity in its survey of 1,489 adults from December 3 to 7. Although Pew did not explain this ambiguity, it might include respondents citing online newspapers or TV news websites alongside the traditional medium itself].
Although print newspapers – especially big metro dailies – appear to be locked in an irreversible long-term decline, newspaper websites have had big increases in audiences. In October 2008, the last month for which data is available, newspaper websites attracted 68.97 million visitors – up 64 per cent from 41.96m in October 2004. The October 2008 figure represents 42 per cent of the American adult internet-using population – up from 28 per cent in October 2004.
TV still takes first place as a news source, claiming a 70-per cent share in 2008 – but that's down from 74 per cent in 2007, and a peak of 82 per cent in 2002. Significantly, the percentage is lower among adults under the age of 30, who have taken to internet news enthusiastically. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents in this age bracket said TV news was their primary source, while an identical percentage tapped the net. That's a big change from 2007, when 68 per cent of people under the age of 30 chose TV, versus just 34 per cent for the internet.