Paper, TV, radio, internet? Whether one, none or a combination, share how you consume news

How do you get your news?

A large part of my job as AL.com’s statewide community engagement specialist is understanding our users. We want to know what readers want from our news organization and how they want it. The problem is, that’s not a thing you can figure out once and expect it to forever be the same. Our readers’ behavior is constantly changing, as technology evolves and as people adapt to new technology (or, in some cases, not).

Although surveying people about their news consumption habits is not a new idea, it’s still valuable, and one can expect the results to change over time, even if the exact same people are surveyed each time. I don’t consume news the same way I did five or ten years ago. I’ve always been a tech lover, but in recent years, I’ve moved to almost exclusively reading news online — during work hours that means on my laptop, and outside that, I read almost everything on my iPhone or iPad.

How have your news consumption habits changed?

To help paint a picture of the most current news consumption habits, I created a short online questionnaire using SurveyMonkey. First, I ask for basic information: Age, gender, location and education level. The survey would not be useful if I didn’t have personal factors to correlate with the news consumption behaviors that I ask about next.

The second page of the survey asks some simple questions about the respondent’s relationship with print products, TV and radio news, and computers and mobile devices. Then, I use a scale-style question to ask about how many times a week the respondent uses the various media.

Last, I ask about differences in types of content versus the medium. For example, when I read business stories, it’s almost always during my work day, when I’m in front of a computer. However, I often read news on my phone. While I may not always have a computer around, my phone is always within my reach. My news apps’ push notifications tell me when something big is breaking, and I also get a lot of my news from my Twitter app, so it’s natural for me to click through and read the full stories on my phone.

I’m sure I’m not the only person whose habits vary depending on the category of content, so I am interested to see how others prefer to consume different types of stories. The categories I included are news, business, sports, entertainment and living.

So now that you’ve read all about my survey, why not take it? I’ll report my findings here on my blog next week!

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9 thoughts on “Paper, TV, radio, internet? Whether one, none or a combination, share how you consume news”

  1. Hi Julie,
    I loved your survey! I think it is a really interesting topic since so many people are getting their information in so many different ways! For instance, in any week I use my smartphone, a desktop, a laptop and a tablet. That is a lot! While I am fortunate to have access to all of these different pieces of technology, I know a lot of people aren’t or choose not to use anything other than their smartphone. I find it really interesting and I am looking forward to finding out how people are getting their different sources of media. Great topic and great post!

    1. Thank you, Amanda! I’ve checked in on the results a few times this week, and I don’t think it will surprise anyone that mobile seemed to be a very popular way to access news. But no more spoilers! Be sure to check out my results post next week. 🙂

  2. Hey Julie. 🙂

    I really enjoyed your survey. its as actually my favorite. You designed it well, and it was mobile friendly.

    I, like you, and many Americans get news online. The Pew Research Center reported that 50% of the public now cites the internet as a main source for national and international news, still below television, but far above newspapers and radio.

    The Pew Research Center also reported that 19% of Americans saw news on a social network “yesterday” in 2012, more than double the 9% who had done so in 2010. I get the latest and greatest breaking news from the Twitterverse.

    Tablet users are more engaged, yet online news consumers see more press bias. According to The Pew Research Center, 65% of those who consider the internet a main news source say news organizations are politically biased. Surprise. Surprise. 😉

    1. Thanks for your kind words and for all the stats, Jason! I’m glad the survey worked well on mobile. I meant to test it on my phone, and I forgot! But I figured that a program like SurveyMonkey would be all over that.

  3. Hi Julie:

    I completed your survey and answered truthfully. I use my Blackberry every day for breaking news…but old habits die hard and I still watch news morning shows everyday. Plus I always watch the evening news with Diane Sawyer…yes I admit it.

    I think the reason why the Pew research shows that a lot of folks view news via social networks is because the social networks are constantly updating you on the news even if you don’t ask for it. For instance with RSS feed and most internet carriers, like clicking on Optimum home page will land you on the latest news. So all day we are basically fed the news.

    I work in NYC and if you walk through Times Square the latest news is crawled on top of a huge Jumbo-tron. We live in a need-to know- up to the minute world of news overload.

    1. Hi Darleen! There’s nothing wrong with watching the morning or evening news! I used to watch it, and I guess I just fell out of the habit. We do indeed live in a world that demands to know news now, which I think is why I tend to get almost all of my news online. I can find out what’s going on right now, rather than waiting for a scheduled news program or the delivey of a print product.

  4. Hi Julie. You are absolutely right about the constant change in people’s media consumption habits. The answers to the questions in your survey will probably be different within a couple of months because of that reason. By completing your survey, I was also able to also assess my news consumption habits. I was not aware radio plays a key role in my life! Actually, I use it more to listen to political analysis daily, rather than to learn the news.
    I would also like to add that the increasing use of the Internet and social media to view news is defined with this word: immediacy. I was not a fan of Twitter after last Monday, when all Puerto Ricans were waiting for a jury to reach a verdict of a very important criminal case. At 6pm, all the newscasts ended and still there was not word from the jury. At 10:45pm, it was by reading my Twitter feed that I was able to find about the step by step process of everything that happened once they reached a verdict. There was a reporter inside the courtroom, who was “tweeting” in pretty much detail how the verdict was read, if it was reached by majority or unanimously, and people’s reactions, among others. I even felt I was there! Exactly four minutes after I read it in Twitter, the TV channels began their transmission live from the courthouse. So, immediacy is the main reason I use social media to view news. Good job!

    1. Thank you, Celeste! Live tweeting is a really valuable tool for us in the newsroom as well as for users wanting immediate updates. Not only does it allow us to make our users aware of whatever it is that’s going on, it also makes it easy for reporters in the field to get details to someone in the newsroom who can quickly pull together an online story from the tweets.
      Interesting that you tend to listen specifically to political analysis on the radio. I often listen to NPR on my way into work, just to get a feel for what’s going on that particular day, but other than that, I listen to music when the radio is on. 🙂

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