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Pew: TV news audience stable, online news audience increasing

Mon, 08/18/2008 - 8:05am
Traci Patterson

The TV news audience has generally remained stable since 2006, and the proportion regularly watching cable news, in particular, has increased – from 34 percent to 39 percent – according to a 2008 biennial news consumption survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Also since 2006, the proportion of Americans who say they get news online at least three days a week has increased, from 31 percent to 37 percent. And about as many people now say they go online for news regularly (at least three days a week) as say they regularly watch cable news (39 percent); substantially more people regularly get news online than regularly watch one of the nightly network news broadcasts (37 percent vs. 29 percent).

There are four distinct user segments in today’s news audience – Integrators, Net-Newsers, Traditionalists and the Disengaged.

Traditionalists represent the oldest and largest news segment – the median age is 52, and the segment comprises 46 percent of the American public – and TV dominates as the favored news source.

Integrators make up 23 percent of the public and are most likely affluent and highly educated. Their main news source is also TV, but more than one-third of Integrators cite the Internet as their primary source of news during the day. Overall, Integrators spend more time with the news on a typical day than do those who rely more on either traditional or Internet sources, according to the study.

The Disengaged represent 14 percent of the population, and they are known for their low levels of interest in the news and news consumption.

And Net-Newsers make up 13 percent of the U.S. public. They are the youngest of the news user segments – the median age is 35 – and are more affluent and better educated than the Integrators. The segment relies primarily on the Internet for news, and they are leading the way in using new Web features and other technologies, the study found. Fewer than half (47 percent) of Net-Newsers watch TV news on a typical day.

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