As recently as last year, the sides were roughly equal – news via social media was about the same portion as news via print newspapers. According to the report posted on the Pew Research Center website, 20% of U.S. adults say they “often get news via social media,” a slightly higher figure than the 16% who favor newspapers.
Pew notes that social media’s recent gain over print follows years of “steady declines” in newspaper circulation, combined with “modest increases” in the portion of Americans using social media. The survey was conducted earlier this year.
TV remains the single most popular news consumption platform, though, despite steady decline in recent years: 49% of adults get their news from TV. Coming in at #2 is news websites (33%), with radio at #3 (26%). Social media and print round out the top five.
When combined, news websites and social media are closing in on TV: 43% to TV’s 49%.
Breaking down the types of TV news, Pew found that local TV is the most popular, with 37% of adults going that route, while 30% use cable TV most often and 25% turn to national evening network news programs.
Pew asked about streaming devices for the first time in their annual study, finding that 9% of U.S. adults often get news from a streaming device on their TV. The majority of those using streaming devices (73%) don’t do so exclusively: they also use broadcast or cable TV for news.
As would be expected, age plays a significant role in news consumption. Americans 65 and older are five times as likely as 18- to 29-year-olds to get their news from TV. Only 16% of that younger demo say they get their news from TV often. The 30- to 49-year-olds who do so are at about 36%.
On the flip side: that youngest demo is four times as likely to get news from social media as the oldest demo. The elders is the only age group in which print has held its popularity, with four in 10 getting news from dead trees often.
The middle group showed a preference for websites, with 42% of the 30- to 49-year-olds going online or using apps. Of the younger demo, that percentage is 27%, trailing behind the most popular – social media (36%). Only 2% of the youngest adults turn to print.
Another Pew finding: Younger and middle-age Americans are far less likely than their elders to rely on only one platform. No more than half of the below-49ers rely on a single platform.