Internet

You Are In the Minority

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Don't get cocky, Internet news readers. You may be the wave of the future, but today we remain an oppressed minority—only 5 percent of Americans get their news from the web only, and a mere 29 percent supplement other sources with online reading:

online news trends

On any given day, more Americans turn to TV for their news (57%) than any other source of media, a rate that has remained largely stable over the past 10 years (59% in 1998).

The Internet may not have crushed TV yet, but newspapers are screwed, so that's something:

In contrast, the percentage of Americans reading a newspaper on any given day has fallen to 34%, down from 40% just two years ago and down from 48% (a 14-point drop) a decade ago.

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  1. I’m not sure what to make of it, but it’s interesting that the Internet is mostly taking a bite out of newspapers and radio but not TV. Perhaps because newspapers and radio already allow for more individual self-selection of what news is consumed, thus more natural overlap with the hyper-individualized online experience?

    The Internet heralds a new freedom of information flow such as we haven’t seen since before the Federal government first got its paws on the radio spectrum. Over the past century, more and more of the public discourse has come to be centered in areas that have, at the very least, heavy government restrictions on market entry- first radio, then broadcast TV, and then with the Federally-mandated newspaper cartels. Subscription television started to reverse the trend, but the Internet is kicking the door wide open for both individual consumer choice and the dynamism of competition that that entails. Most importantly from a libertarian perspective, radical ideological outliers can get a firm niche footing to build on from the Internet that isn’t available from traditional media markets and their high cost of entry.

  2. At first I was astounded that TV news has remained so popular, until I realized that if they break it down by broadcast vs. cable it would probably look very different. I mean, nobody under about 75 years old watches broadcast news any more, right?

  3. My wife watches TV news, as do I on occasion, but it’s what we watch. Local news, not national, and mostly to get the top stories, weather and sports. Things that TV news is good at.

  4. This one is a hard call. I mean, I’m not sure what to make of this. For one, I consider myself to get my news from the web…but then upon further consideration, I listen to NPR during my relatively short commute in mornings and afternoons. So 90% of my news comes from the web, but I can’t technically claim I get my news web-exclusive because I still get 30 minutes (15 mins each way) of NPR.

  5. I mean, nobody under about 75 years old watches broadcast news any more, right?

    What’s broadcast news?

  6. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual behavior is described by (radio+newspaper or radio+internet) vs. TV.

  7. Print is dead.

  8. I read the NY times online. Does that count as “internet” or “newspaper” ?

  9. If I read the Times on the web, does that count as reading the newspaper or using the web? Or both?

  10. I can’t understand why anybody watches the TV for news. Sitting through 29 minutes of useless crap to get 1 minute of useful information? No thanks. Then again, I suppose we wouldn’t have cool words like “sheeple” and “spoon-fed” if everybody picked their news a la carte.

  11. Good to see that Weigel is fleeing the sinking ship and writing for Slate now.

    And, as part of my outreach I just left a comment over there pointing out how he lied.

  12. The number of libertarian loons getting their ears tickled here is infintesimal, thank God.

  13. I regularly print out hard copies of online sports news for an older relative. Does that count as interwebs or dead trees? Both?

  14. From the “Read More” page

    The television news audience, by contrast, has generally remained stable since 2006, and the proportion regularly watching cable news in particular has increased (from 34% to 39%). The appeal of television news is seen in the large percentages of the news segments — particularly Integrators — that continue to watch: A majority of Integrators (56%) get news online on a typical day while an even larger share (66%) got news from television.

    Cable news draws substantial numbers of viewers among Integrators and Net- Newsers. More than four-in-ten Net-Newsers (43%) regularly watch cable news, far more than the proportion that regularly watches network or local news. A majority of Integrators also regularly tunes in to cable news (53%); by comparison, just 37% say they regularly watch one of the nightly network news broadcasts.

  15. Trend in News Consumption “Yesterday”

    What are the stats from last Thursday?

  16. If I said it once, I said it three times before: Newspapers need to be free and shift their profit 100% from ad revenue instead of 80%.

  17. mmmm……TV FUD

  18. Orange Line Special | December 4, 2008, 7:21pm | #
    Good to see that Weigel is fleeing the sinking ship and writing for Slate now.

    And, as part of my outreach I just left a comment over there pointing out how he lied.

    Good for you LoneWhackJob! Now be a good boy and run along before your mommy calls for you.

  19. Kolohe
    That was a good one, I chuckled.

  20. The good thing about the internet is that there’s a wealth of good information at your fingertips. The bad thing about the internet is that the bad information at your fingertips vastly outweighs the good. Our school systems (including most private schools) do not teach the critical thinking skills necessary to discern good information from bad. There are a lot of things I wish more schools would teach, but “how to detect bullshit in three easy lessons” is at the top of the list.

    Rule one: If it’s on some guy’s blog, it’s not true.
    Rule two: If it’s crossposted, it’s not true.
    Rule three: If it has been forwarded, it’s not true.

  21. Be it cable or broadcast, it’s terribly sad how many people still get their news from television when we have access to a major technological breakthrough like the internet.

    It’s like people riding a horse to work when a car costs 1/3 the price.

  22. Taktix
    Have you caught up to Michael Moore yet? If not, a millionaire surely?

  23. I read the NY times online. Does that count as “internet” or “newspaper” ?

    You are scrolling through the ads and supporting the sponsors like a good little subscriber, aren’t you?

  24. Of course you Libruhtarians could do something useful. Like ask SeriousQuestions to public figures and upload them to YouTube. But I’d guess you’d rather buy another RonPaul blimp.

  25. It’s like people riding a horse to work when a car costs 1/3 the price.

    Ah, but if your aspirations are to work/think in the 19th century and prior…

  26. So OLS have you kicked your meth habit yet?

  27. The last comment wasn’t from me; I still need to research laws, other than libel, regarding doing things like that. I suspect there’s something in the DMCA and things like that.

    However, the sentiments expressed by the imposter are actually in line with my own, so at least it saved me some time.

    P.S. More Weigel-bashing at that link.

  28. The last comment wasn’t from me; I still need to research laws, other than libel, regarding doing things like that. I suspect there’s something in the DMCA and things like that.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    Lonewacko, I gotta break this to you. You’re not a big shot journalist. You’re not even Matt Drudge. You’re a moronic tool with a big mouth, a modem, and way too much fucking time on his hands.

  29. While Katherine Mangu-Ward praises those who get news off the Internet, LoneWacko demonstrates one of the more negative aspects of Internet news, albeit I’m sure he has little to no readers.

  30. Those people that get all their news from TV shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

  31. “However, the sentiments expressed by the imposter are actually in line with my own, so at least it saved me some time.”

    Doesn’t concerned observer say this kind of thing all the time? He and OLS should have a troll war. It would be epic.

  32. Illegal immigrants drive down wages and TAKE UR’ JEBS!
    vs.

    TEH CORPORASHUNZ are conspiring with George Bush to keep wages low and oppress TEH PEOPUL!

  33. “Those people that get all their news from TV shouldn’t be allowed to vote”
    I agree with you there, MP. And if they watch Lou Dobbs seriously, then they should be castrated.

  34. Actually, if you mixed CO and OLS to get a hybrid, you might get something like Lou Dobbs.

  35. OLS vs. CO
    We’ve got to set this up. H&R needs to post on illegal immigration or something else to lure in LoneWacko, and CO will naturally come on to spew his own crap, and we can see them fight it out. It’ll be just “Cripple Fight” in South Park!

  36. trolling ain’t what it used to be

  37. “If I said it once, I said it three times before: Newspapers need to be free and shift their profit 100% from ad revenue instead of 80%.”

    The problem with that is that if the cost of the news paper drops below the value of the raw paper itself, then this would lead to “abusive* consumption”. For example, bums would pick up whole stacks of it for use as paper blankets, etc. In essence, you would have a hard time convincing advertisers that most of the consumers of your paper are actually reading it and thus consuming the ads.

    * I use the word “abuse” in the literal sense, not the politically charged sense as in “drug abuse”.

  38. On any given day, more Americans turn to TV for their news (57%) than any other source of media,…

    That explains a lot.

  39. This actually gives me hope for the country. This many people watching TV news explains why most voters are morons. Eventually the interweb will make inroads with the morons, and then we’ll have this thing called youtube.

  40. Morons are eternal. Sorry, the web is not going to do away with them.

    I’d take the 57% TV news vs 5% internet news numbers as some rough indication of how many morons vs active brains there are in the country.

    Then again, the outliers like OLS could ruin my whole theory here.

    Before you know it we’ll have to conclude that *everybody* is a moron. Except for you and me who did the studies that proved it.

  41. Can’t have everything, I guess, but I’ll take what I can get: I’ve been wanting the whole lamestream media to die for something like eight years running now. Watching the newspapers go to hell should be a nice start on that.

    TV news may be tougher to kill, but with a little help from Microsoft and the Linux geeks, we’ll probably see the TV and computer integrated into one box, which will turn all TV into a kind of next generation of YouTube-style video-hosting sites. Then the vast herd of morons currently getting their news from TV will turn their attention to LOLcats and other retarded “viral” internet material instead, leaving them completely uninformed. (This will actually be an improvement over being as thoroughly misinformed as they are now.)

    In the meantime, I guess I can always sit here listening to my copy of John Denver’s rendition of “Blow Up Your TV (Spanish Pipe Dream)” while I wait for the mediapocalypse.

  42. Maybe we should bring back town criers. We already have those Salvation Army guys standing around in public ringing a bell all day long; why not get them to shout the news at passerby while they’re at it?

  43. We already have those Salvation Army guys standing around in public ringing a bell all day long; why not get them to shout the news at passerby while they’re at it?

    *Or* you can give the job to the homeless (and not completely delusional). I wonder what the information fidelity percentage would be.

  44. BDB | December 4, 2008, 9:06pm

    for the win. well challenged!

  45. cory | December 4, 2008, 6:55pm | #
    Print is dead.

    do you also collect spores, molds, and fungus?

  46. I always disliked the seeming “squareness” of TV news anchors. I’d like the news better if it were read by people that seemed edgy, unbalanced or “off” somehow.* But that’s just me.

    *Yeah, yeah, I know. John Stossel.

  47. What’s broadcast news?

    It’s that 30-minute entertainment device created by the 3 major networks 50 years ago which actually consists of only about 8 minutes of news after deducting all the geriatric drug ads, teasers, intros, walk-bys, dramatic music and chit-chats. Hope this helps.

  48. ed,

    And thus The Daily Show was inevitable.

  49. What is the “reading” thing you speak of…don’t we all communicate with pictures & glyphs now?

  50. we’ll probably see the TV and computer integrated into one box

    Many of the higher end models of LCD TVs have an ethernet port and show RSS feeds straight on the TV. For the morons who need to have “the best” model, they might unsuspectingly be introduced to the more modern news distribution model.

  51. Not sure if anyone else brought it up, but reading a newspaper or looking at the internet takes your whole consciousness. Having NY1 on in the morning to hear the weather/sports/transit/top stories allows you to get ready for the day at the same time.

  52. At least Hit & Run doesn’t rub off on my hands.

  53. IIRC, the rate of reading has plummeted over the past two decades. I prefer getting my news from various printed sources, but also read newspapers on line. One source, The Economist, I find nearly impossible to read on line. The material is so complex that I need the entire article in front of me to refer back to previous paragraphs — scrolling back on the ‘pute is aggravating for some reason.

    Even while working, I keep Fox News on in the background. I am, admittedly, a news addict. I’m not distracted by it because it’s not ‘my’ medium.

    It appears to me that our younger generation (18-34?) is wired to electronics, restless and often distracted. Of our four children only the oldest (40) reads newspapers and news magazines.

  54. I always disliked the seeming “squareness” of TV news anchors. I’d like the news better if it were read by people that seemed edgy, unbalanced or “off” somehow.* But that’s just me.

    Then Naked News might be just the thing you’re looking for.

  55. Rule four: If you apply generalities like the three rules above, you’re not using critical thinking skills.

  56. our younger generation (18-34?) is wired to electronics, restless and often distracted

    You might say they’re all a-Twitter.

  57. I get all of my news from The Onion and The Daily Show/Colbert Report News Hour.

    That’s OK, isn’t it?

  58. Thanks for reminding us again that libertarians are a small political minority.

    What, that wasn’t what the article was about?

    Forget it.

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