PEJ State of the News Media 2010: Audience Behavior

The Internet and cell phones are changing people’s relationship to news.

That quote introduces the Audience Behavior section of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism‘s comprehensive The State of the News Media 2010 report, which was released Monday morning.

PEJ wrote:

On a typical day, 61 percent of Americans get news online, which puts the Internet just behind television as a news source and ahead of newspapers. And more than one-quarter of adults now commonly access the Internet on their phones and PDAs, adding yet another layer of change in consumers’ relationship with news.

PEJ and the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project surveyed 2,259 American adults on landlines and cell phones about their news-consumption habits, following that up by analyzing consumer behavior using Nielsen’s NetView tool, a database of Nielsen’s online audience measurements, to arrive at the following conclusions.

In determining who online news users are, the research found that 39 percent are between the ages of 30 and 49, 31 percent are 50 and older, and 29 percent are 18-29, with a median age of 40. A total of 58 percent were high-school graduates and 36 percent college graduates, with only 6 percent having not completed high school. As far as income, 29 percent made more than $75,000 annually, while 24 percent earned less than $30,000, 19 percent $30,000-$49,999, and 15 percent $50,000-$74,999. In terms of race, 71 percent were white (non-Hispanic), 12 percent Hispanic, and 9 percent black (non-Hispanic). A total of 84 percent used broadband to access the Internet, with 69 percent doing so via wireless connections and 34 percent using premium broadband services, while just 6 percent still relied on dial-up connections.

Breaking down the surveyed group’s news consumption by topics, weather dominated at 81 percent, followed by: national events (73 percent), heath/medicine (66 percent), business/finance/economy (64 percent), international events (62 percent), science/technology (61 percent), in-state developments (58 percent), sports (52 percent), local community developments (51 percent), arts/culture (49 percent), celebrities/entertainment (47 percent), and traffic (32 percent).

Among respondents who cited favorite news sites, 37 percent were sites from national TV networks, followed by: news aggregators (21 percent), local online news sites (13 percent), major national newspaper sites (9 percent), special-interest news sites (6 percent), bloggers’ sites (5 percent), international news sites (4 percent), other national news-organization sites (2 percent), and other (1 percent).

As far as respondents who access news via mobile devices, weather topped the list of topics at 26 percent, followed by: news/current events (25 percent), apps for news content (18 percent), sports scores/stories (16 percent), traffic (13 percent), financial information (12 percent), and news via emails and texts (11 percent).