NEW YORK – Fewer Americans are reading newspapers and are instead getting their news online, but television remains the leading source of news in the country, according to a survey released Sunday.
Not surprisingly, younger people tend to get more of their news on the Internet, while older folks use traditional media such as television and newspapers, the Pew Research Center's biannual survey on news consumption habits said.
Pew said the results show an increasing shift toward online news consumption, but that there is now a sizable group of a more engaged, sophisticated and well-off people that use both traditional and online sources to get their news.
The Pew researchers referred to these people as "integrators," and says they account for 23 percent of those surveyed, spending the most time with the news on a typical day.
"Like Web-oriented news consumers, integrators are affluent and highly educated. However they are older, on average, than those who consider the Internet their main source of news," the survey said.
It is this group that advertisers typically like to target, which helps explain why newspaper publishers have seen sharp declines in ad revenues as spending shifts online.
Pew found that the largest group of news consumers — 46 percent of those polled — have a "heavy reliance" on television for their news at all times of the day. This group is the oldest, with a median age of 52, and least affluent, with 43 percent unemployed. They are unlikely to own a computer or go online for news.
Overall, among those who get some of their news from TV, fewer are watching the 6:30 broadcast network newscasts, and instead opting for cable news sources such as CNN or Fox News Channel. CNN's audience is now majority Democratic, while 39 percent of Fox News viewers are Republicans, 33 percent Democrats, with the remainder independent or didn't specify.
The group that relies most on the Internet for news is the youngest at a median age of 35. It is also the smallest, at 13 percent of those polled. Fewer than half of them watch television news on a regular basis. Eighty percent of this group has a college education and they are twice as likely to read an online newspaper than a printed version.
The emergence of this group and the shift among integrators online led to an overall decline in the percentage of people who said they read a newspaper the day before, to 34 percent from 40 percent two years ago, the researchers found. That is also reflected in a shift in the industry that has seen circulation figures slip in recent quarters.
The beneficiary of less print newspaper consumption has been other online news sources, with about 25 percent of the people surveyed saying they go to an Internet site for news at least three times a week. That's up from 18 percent in the 2006 survey.
Pew found that consumers of online news tend to be more educated than those who get their news from traditional sources, with 44 percent of college graduates saying they read news online every day. Just 11 percent of those who topped out with a high school education go online for news.
About one-third of those younger than 25 said they get no news on a typical day, up from about 25 percent in 1998.
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. It polled 3,615 adults 18 years or older by telephone between April 30 and June 1, and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.