Study: People Consume News Through a Variety of Media, Mostly to Check the Weather

A study released today by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project revealed that Americans increasingly get their news from a wide variety of media, and that they are increasingly likely to customize and share online news via email and social networking.

Few Americans limit their news consumption to one specific medium; 92% said they got their news from multiple platforms, and just under half (46%) said they get their news from between four and six platforms on a given day.

No big surprises regarding the Internet. It’s a huge part of how people get their news; 59% get news from combo of online and offline sources. Still, it’s far from an exclusive purveyor of current events — only 2% of survey respondents said they rely exclusively on the Internet for their news. Television outranks the Internet in terms of popularity among news consumers, but the Internet beats both local and national print newspapers.

The multiple platforms have made news easier for people to access, but not necessarily easier to digest. Fifty-five percent of respondents said staying up-to-date on the news is easier now than it was five years ago, but 70% said they felt overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available to them.

After the jump: Weather is the most popular online news topic, and other details from the survey.

Weather leads among online news subjects, with 81% of survey respondents following it. It’s followed by national events (73%), health and medicine (66%), business and the economy (64%), international events (62%), and science and technology (60%)

— Mobile devices are playing an important role in news consumpton; 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.

— Audiences are active in shaping the way they consume news. Twenty-eight percent of internet users have customized home pages to help them organize their news consumption, and 37% of internet users have helped create or distribute news on the Internet.

— Fifty-two percent of online news consumers share links with others by email or social networking.