Web is no longer playing catch-up among young adults
Television has long been the primary source of news for all Americans, but for the first time, young adults have changed that trend. Consumers ages 18 to 29 now say that the internet is their primary source of national and international news, according to The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Overall, the internet remains in the No. 2 position behind television, though several factors will continue to propel it to the top spot. For one, the internet offers an infinitely more diverse array of viewpoints than any other form of media. Additionally, that content is always-on and, therefore, always available at the demand of the consumer. The growth of broadband is also resulting in the rise of the internet as not just a text-based medium, but a complete multimedia platform.
Newspapers have suffered the heaviest decline in influence due to the internet, but television has been steadily eroding as well, most notably for Americans ages 49 and under. This is likely because of their increasing use of online video.
By contrast, for seniors 65 and over—who are much less likely to use the internet in general, let alone video—newspapers and television have remained the dominant news sources.
Radio has remained resilient as a news source, cited consistently by about 15% of the population during the past 5 years. However, even radio may not continue to be so immune going forward. Data for 18- to 29-year-olds shows a slight decline as this generation is much more comfortable using the internet for obtaining all forms of media—text, video and audio.
Age is not the only factor affecting where people are most likely to get their news. Blacks are much more likely to cite television as their primary source than the general population. Income and education also play a role. Those with a high school education or less and those making less than $30,000 a year were heavily reliant on TV for their news.
Aside from functioning as a critical piece of democracy, online news sites also offer attractive audiences for marketers—young, educated and wealthy. As the internet continues to slowly increase penetration, and broadband adoption inches up, this early adopter profile will give way and its influence will spread far and wide among the entire population.