Inside the Profession

Social Media Overtakes Print Newspapers as News Source

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For the first time, social media has surpassed print newspapers as a news source for Americans, Pew Research Center finds. In recent surveys, 20 percent of U.S. adults said they often get news from social media, compared to 16 percent from print newspapers. Newspaper circulation has been declining for years, while the portion of Americans who use social media has modestly increased.

Television remains the most popular way Americans receive news, though its use has fallen since 2016. News websites are the next most common source, followed by radio, social media and print newspapers. Combined consumption of news on websites and social media stands at 43 percent for U.S. adults, compared to 49 percent for television. On TV, local news is most popular, with 37 percent of respondents saying they often see news there, compared with 30 percent for cable-TV news and 25 percent for network news.

Older Americans watch more TV news. Among respondents 65 and up, 81 percent often see news on television — compared to 65 percent of those 50–64 years old, 36 percent of those 30–49 and 16 percent of those 18–29. The youngest group was about four times more likely to often receive news from social media than those 65 and older. Print remains popular only among respondents 65 and older, 39 percent of whom often get news there, compared to 18 percent of other age groups.

Greg Beaubien is a frequent contributor to PRSA publications.

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Greg Beaubien

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