Report

News Interest Index: Internet Overtakes Newspapers As News Source

  • December 23, 2008

The Internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news.

Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the Internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the Internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%.

For young people, however, the Internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the Internet (68% vs. 34%).

The percentage of people younger than 30 citing television as a main news source has declined from 68% in September 2007 to 59% currently. This mirrors a trend seen earlier this year in campaign news consumption. (See "Internet Now Major Source of Campaign News," News Interest Index, Oct. 31, 2008.)

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 3-7 among 1,489 adults, finds there has been little change in the individual TV news outlets that people rely on for national and international news. Nearly a quarter of the public (23%) says they get most of their news from CNN, while 17% cite Fox News; smaller shares mention other cable and broadcast outlets.

Top News Stories of 2008

While the 2008 presidential campaign attracted high levels of public attention, the economy was the top story of the year in terms of news interest, according to Pew's Weekly News Interest Index. In late September, as the nation's financial crisis deepened, 70% said they were following news about the economy very closely. That ranks among the highest levels of news interest for any story in the past two decades.

Read the full report Internet Overtakes Newspapers As News Source on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press Web site.