Study: Broadband Users Tap into News

A new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that at the end of 2005, some 50 million Americans used online new sources during a typical day, and that broadband users are increasingly likely to use the Internet as a primary source of news.

The report distinguishes between dial-up and broadband users, finding that some 43 percent of Americans with home broadband connections are likely to use the Internet as a news source on a typical day, compared with just 26 percent of dial-up users. Broadband users are also somewhat less likely to use other forms of traditional media as a news source, with 57 percent of broadband users reporting they get news from local TV, compared to 65 percent of dial-up users. Just 38 percent of broadband users said they got news from a local paper, compared to 41 percent of dial-up users. (Amusingly, 17 percent of broadband users used on a national newspaper, compared to just 12 percent of dial-up users and 8 percent of non-Internet users.)

The study also finds that, over time, consumption of online news has increased significantly, with just 19 million adults reporting using the Internet for news on an average day in March of 2000, compared to 44 million responding positively to the same question in December 2005. The study actually puts the number of daily Internet newshounds at about 50 million, or 31 percent of all American Internet users, since they expanded the number of news-gathering questions in their survey.

Internet news users also turn to a wide variety of online information sources, with national television news sites (e.g., CNN, MSNBC) being accessed by 52 percent of broadband users (and 40 percent of dial-up users), with portal sites (Yahoo, Google, etc.) and the Web sites of local papers and television stations rounding out the top four sources. Broadband users are also more likely to tune into blogs: some 12 percent report accessing news blogs, compared to just 6 percent of dial-up users.