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U.S. news consumption up thanks to mobile devices, Pew report says

Mobile devices are an increasingly important part of news consumption, but Twitter and Facebook still drive relatively little news traffic, according to the State of the News Media 2012 report released Monday, March 19, by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The Pew report, which concludes that social media are a complementary, rather than replacement, news source, also points out how big a role aggregators and curators play in news consumption.

More than a fourth (27 percent) of people in the United States get their news from mobile devices, 44 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone, and about 20 percent own a tablet computer, the report found. What's more, all of this news-on-the-go seems to be increasing the amount of news Americans are consuming, the report said.

Still, the growing online audiences are not making up for the decline in print circulation, as "in 2011, losses in print advertising dollars outpaced gains in digital revenue, according to the report. "In sum, the news industry is not much closer to a new revenue model than a year earlier and has lost more ground to rivals in the technology industry. But growing evidence also suggests that news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives. That, in the end, could prove a saving factor for the future of journalism."

Also noteworthy is the increasing gap between the technology industry and the news industry, raising the question of whether "the technology giants will find it in their interest to acquire major legacy news brands — as part of the 'everything' they offer consumers," according to the report.

Other key findings and major trends from the report include:

  • Mobile devices increased traffic on major newspaper websites by an average of nine percent.
  • 54 percent of the U.S. population actively uses Facebook, spending 14 times more time on Facebook than major news sites each month.
  • Just nine percent of digital news consumers said they "very often" get their news from Facebook and Twitter links, while 36 percent said they go directly to the news site, 32 percent use news searches, and -- very interestingly -- 29 percent said they very often get their news from some sort of an aggregator.
  • For the first time in a decade, broadcast television news audiences grew, up 4.5 percent.
  • Another 100 newspapers are expected to implement paywalls in coming months, joining the 150 or so that already have done so.


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