55% of Americans Think Traditional Media Will Disappear in 10 Years

A new poll from 24/7 Wall St. and Harris Interactive has its finger on the pulse of what the average American really thinks about the future of traditional media, and it appears rather bleak: 55% of those surveyed think that traditional media as we know it will no longer exist within ten years.

There has been vocal debate as to whether traditional media is threatened by internet-based communications, or whether it can adapt to social media and flourish in a digital world. A new poll from 24/7 Wall St. and Harris Interactive has its finger on the pulse of what the average American really thinks about the future of traditional media, and it appears rather bleak: 55% of those surveyed think that traditional media as we know it will no longer exist within ten years.

The survey asked 2,095 American adults about where they get their media between October 8th and 12th, 2010.

There is some discrepancy between where Americans say they want to get their news and where they actually do get it: 67% responded that they prefer reading news in the newspaper or watching it on TV, but 50% of the respondents indicate that they get nearly all of their news online.

One quarter of American adults report spending less time reading newspapers and news magazines over the last year. And, likely related to this, 28% of the respondents say they have spent more time reading news online in the past year.

It appears as though Americans are still consuming as much news as they had in the past, but they are migrating online to get it.

The survey reveals more detailed data about where Americans are getting there news, and age is a big factor. Unsurprisingly, more youth (18-34) are getting their news online than older (55+) respondents: 65% of the younger respondents get nearly all of their news online, while only 33% of older respondents do the same.

And attitudes towards traditional media differ between age groups as well. 81% of older respondents would prefer to get all of their news through traditional (newspaper, TV, magazines) means, while only 57% of the younger respondents say the same.

So what does all of this mean for traditional media?

It appears as though Americans are happy to embrace new technologies that make news consumption easier. The 24 hour news cycle is much easier to tap into online – it just takes a few clicks to get to a news aggregation service or your favorite news blog. Traditional media has more hurdles: people have to walk to the store, wait for their morning paper delivery, or tune into their favorite news channel at a specific time. The internet reduces time and space barriers to news.

However, all is not lost for traditional media. They have been innovating within the social media space, experimenting with journalistic uses of Twitter, and incorporating live blogging, user feedback and comments into their reporting. Some are even using Foursquare and other new technologies to stay ahead of the curve.

The fact that the majority of Americans pine for the feel of newsprint between their fingers is a good sign for traditional media. There is something tactile, trustworthy and familiar about traditional media that internet-based news simply hasn’t been able to emulate. And it will likely be these entrenched positive associations with traditional media, along with some level of embracing digital technologies, that will preserve them – at least, as far as this study is concerned, for the next ten years.

Recommended articles