Study: TV Still Dominant News Source

People who still rely heavily on TV for their news, dubbed "Traditionalists," remained the largest segment of news consumers (46%) by a wide margin, according to the Pew Research Center's biennial poll, conducted April 30-June 1 among 3,615 participants.

Their average age was 52, so they remained in the key 18-54 news demo, but according to Pew, they were primarily a downscale audience, with 43% unemployed and 60% without a college degree.

But even the younger, more "engaged and "sophisticated" "Integrators," who use both traditional and new-media sources of news and make up 23% of the news audience, also identified television as their main source of that news, with some online news in the mix on most days.

The "Net-Newsers" who rely primarily on the Internet for news made up only 13% of the audience, less than those who were labeled "Disengaged" (14%) for showing low levels of interest in news. They were the youngest audience at a median age of 35.

But the ranks of online-news consumers are growing. Between 2006 and 2008, the percentage of news consumers who regularly get news online jumped from 29% to 37%.

But TV still gets a healthy share of the youngest, most online-friendly group, with almost half of the Net-Newsers (47%) saying they watch TV news daily.

One disturbing trend was toward less overall news consumption by the under-25 set. More than one-third said they get "no news" on a typical day, up from 25% a decade ago.

The survey also found that CNN's Democratic base was growing, while Fox News Channel’s Republican following remained about the same. Pew found that 51% of CNN viewers identified themselves as Democrats, up from 45% in 2006, while over the same time, the percentage of Fox News’ Republican viewership remained at 39%.

Among the survey's other highlights -- or lowlights, as the case may be -- was that the believability ratings for "national news organizations" remained "very low," with online news sites like Google News and AOL News rating even lower than the category in general.

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John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.