Americans spending more time reading news

NEW YORK Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:32pm EDT

Detroit Newspapers journeyman pressman Frank Brabenec proof reads for print errors a first edition of The Detroit News newspaper at the newspapers printing plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan December 16, 2008. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Detroit Newspapers journeyman pressman Frank Brabenec proof reads for print errors a first edition of The Detroit News newspaper at the newspapers printing plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan December 16, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Americans are spending more time reading the news now than they have at any time during the last decade, according to a new study.

The biennial report by the Washington-based Pew Research Center found that 34 percent of the 3,006 people questioned in the study had used the Internet to check the news the day before.

"The value of the study is in the trends it shows. They are reflective of the current environment, and document which changes have occurred over time, and which haven't," said Carroll Doherty, Pew's associate director.

About a third of people listed to the radio for their news, while 39 percent said they used traditional news sources such as newspapers and television.

The researchers were also surprised to learn Americans are augmenting traditional news sources with other technologies, rather than replacing them entirely.

If cell phones, email, social networking websites and podcasts are included, 44 percent of those questioned said they read the news on more than one internet or mobile source each day.

Thirty six percent reported receiving their news through both traditional sources and newer technologies.

"What we're seeing is the result of expanded possibilities in getting news," Doherty said. "Things evolve fairly slowly. Replacing (of traditional news sources with new technology) doesn't really happen, and people are comfortable with that."

Only nine percent of people said they only monitored the Internet or mobile news sources.

"The number of people who are primarily reliant on Internet or mobile sources is small, but it's growing. That figure is likely to grow even more over time. Online is where the growth is," Doherty explained.

The study also examined the reasons why readers chose particular news outlets. CNN watchers, for example, were most attracted by the latest news and headlines, while viewers of Fox News and listeners of NPR said they wanted a mix of hard news and commentary.

Consumers were also increasingly divided along clear ideological lines. Doherty said television programs increasingly reflect the political leanings of viewers.

"It's very clear what the politics of these shows are and the viewership is reflective of that. You get huge divides," he said.

Doherty said it is important to note that the increased role of technology in news dissemination does not necessarily come at the expense of traditional outlets.

"It may be the case that print readership is losing readers, and that those readers are getting older. People are adapting, and with younger people, the platform is changing. But traditional still has a key role in news and is showing good trends," he said.

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