Wednesday, January 7, 2009

US: Internet overtakes print as primary news source

ACCORDING to a report published by the Pew Research Center, the Internet overtook print newspapers as a news source this year in the United States.
The report found that Internet usage surged from 24% to 40% in a year, overtaking the 35% who rely on newspapers, the Guardian reports.
The New York Times reports that the change "does not represent a decline in the popularity of newspapers," but rather a "near-doubling" of the number of people that name the Internet as their primary news source. Newspapers actually gained a percentage point in popularity over the last year.
Michael Dimock, the Pew Center's associate director believes that the US presidential election has a lot to do with the shift because most people prefer to follow their candidate in a way that mainstream media does not allow.
The shift to the Internet has been hard on newspapers because they have been unable to generate the same kind of advertising revenue as they used to. The most recent example was in December when the Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy. Columbia Journalism professor, Sree Sreenivasan believes that "the problem is that advertising dollars from newspapers are being replaced by digital pennies."
The Guardian's Roy Greenslade believes that 2009 will be a rough year for newspapers and he predicts that more freesheets will vanish, more journalists will lose their jobs and more publishers will shut down. Greenslade believes that "rising newsprint prices and the flight to the Internet is transforming an already grim situation into a perilous one."
Greenslade feels that "there is a lack of genuine inventiveness about how to forge a new form of journalism, because companies are too focused on dealing with commerce." Which is the ultimate problem for newspapers - how to retain and gain audiences because as they are trimming costs, they are also cutting content and their ability to innovate.

Source: New York Times, The Guardian, Roy Greenslade, Poynter

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