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Last updated April, 2002

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Consumers Turn To The Internet for News | The Web Allows Journalists More Room For Creativity |


Consumers Turn To The Internet for News

Americans turn to the Internet for news because of the convenience, accessibility and the breadth of online searches. he number of Americans who go online to get news has more than tripled in the last decade, going from 11 to 36 million news users, according Pew Research Center surveys.

Though there has been a general decline in the number of Americans who follow news on a regular basis, Internet news is attracting key segments of the national audience.

According to a national survey released April 10, 2000, by the Round Table Group:

  • 68 percent of 18- to 24-year-old Internet users say they are more likely to check the Internet than a newspaper to answer a question;
  • 67 percent are more likely to consult the Net than the TV.

Americans turn to the Internet for news because of the convenience, accessibility and the breadth of online searches. Almost half (46 percent) of the 3,002 adults surveyed in the 1998 Pew Center study, said access to information that is unavailable elsewhere is a very important reason for using the web. Slightly less than that (44 percent) said being able to search many different news sources for a particular topic was a major reason to look for news on the web and 72% of those who go online for news everyday say using the Internet is more convenient for them.

But the Internet news audience is not only growing, it is becoming decidedly more mainstream. According to the Jan. 14, 1999 Pew Research Center report “The Internet News Audience Goes Ordinary,” less than five years ago the vast majority of Internet users were well-educated, affluent men. Today the internet demographic is much more heterogeneous, as people without college training, women and those with modest incomes go online.

Newcomers to the Internet go online much more often for personal reasons, such as getting the latest sports information, entertainment news and health, finance and technology updates and to check e-mail, than do more experienced online users. Online news allows the consumer to get the news from anywhere in the world when, where, and how they want it. As a result, the popularity of news sites are booming.

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The Web Allows Journalists More Room For Creativity Money is no longer the main barrier to news publishing

Internet publishing has broken down the barriers that once meant that only the wealthy could be a news provider.

Printing presses, paper, video cameras and editing bays cost money. Employees cost money. But advanced technology has dramatically reduced the cost of news delivery. One participant at the Japan Society Media Dialogue noted that video can be delivered via the internet at about 1/100 the cost of terrestrial transmission.

“Digital recorders and editing software have eliminated the need for massive on-sight production crews,” said Brendan Koerner of the New America Foundation. “Now a lone 23-year-old neophyte journalist can shoot, produce and transmit a 3- to 4-minute story with relative ease.”

Online reporting - through the proliferation of cheap, powerful computers that are geared toward the commercial market - has empowered the public to both access independent news sources or to become a news provider themselves.

Many journalists are alarmed at this trend, since anyone with a 56k modem and a working knowledge of HTML can call themselves a “journalists.” This in itself does raise a myriad of credibility issues - how does the public varify these sourses? (along with devaluing journalistic standards) - , but it also means that issues that don’t make it to mainstream news organizations will still get coverage.

But Web publishing has done more than change the costs of news delivery; it has also broadened that ability of journalist to find more efficient and creative ways to deliver the news.

Online Journalist are not bound by the space restrictions of newspaper journalists or a 30-second spot that broadcasters have to tell their story, on the net they have almost free reign.

Possibly even more compelling is the fact that online reporters are not restricted to just one medium. Sophisticated media graphics, video and user interactivity means that readers can get the same detailed analysis offered by newspapers with the added bonuses of the take-me-there capabilities of broadcast news.

New media providers, such as MSNBC.com, are exploring these possibilities by finding innovative ways to enhance the viewer’s experience, while at the same time giving in-depth coverage of complicated information.

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LINKS:


Round Table Group Article

Pew Research Center:
Internet Audience goes Ordinary

Japan Society Media Dialogue