Study: How Americans Get News Online

social media news outletsAh, newspapers: the dinosaurs of the media world. Paper-based sources are quickly losing momentum in the news industry, forcing old school companies to break habits and adapt to an increasingly digital world. But that’s old news.

What’s surprising though, are the ways in which Americans discover and consume news now that they’ve abandoned newspapers for digital devices.

According 2012 State of the News Media Report, a study from Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, American adults are consuming more news than ever thanks to their omnipresent devices.

The percentage of Americans who get news online increased by 17.2% from 2010-2011. Meanwhile the number of Americans who get news from newspaper decreased by 4%.

Which devices do we use?

The same pew study shows that 54% get news from computers, while 44% use a smartphone and 18% use a tablet.

How do we find news online?

Contrary to popular belief, social media does not drive very many news-related clicks.

The Pew study shows that of all American adults (including those who do not get news from digital sources), only 9% “very often” click on news recommendations on Facebook or Twitter. Instead, most (36%) navigate directly to news organizations’ websites or find news via search engines (32%). 29% use a news aggregator or application to get news.

social media news outlets

But when we focus only on those who do get their news digitally, the social numbers jump – 52% get news from Facebook or Twitter, while 92% use website and 85% use search engines.

Regardlessly, the social numbers are still lower than one might expect. According to Pew researchers,

“Facebook and Twitter are now pathways to news, but their role may not be as large as some have suggested. The population that uses these networks for news at all is still relatively small, especially the part that does so very often.”

Facebook vs. Twitter

A rather unexpected result of this study shows that more than twice as many people read news recommended on Facebook than on Twitter. This could be because Facebook has a much larger user base, or because of the recent adaptation of social reader apps like The Washington Post.

Where do you prefer to get your news? Take a minute to weigh in on our Facebook poll.

For more information on the state of on and offline news publications in America, check out our Changing Media Landscapes board on Pinterest.