Walter Pierce

'Net continues to catch news consumers

by Walter Pierce

More good news for the World Wide Web, and bad news for television and print: A new on-line poll conducted by Zogby International finds that the Internet continues to outpace rival media as the preferred source for news among consumers. In the latest poll, conducted May 29 through June 1 among 3,030 adults, a staggering 56 percent said that, given only one choice for getting their news, they would choose the Internet. Television was a distant second at 21 percent; a mere 10 percent said they would rely only on newspapers, the same percentage as those choosing radio.

The Internet also was tops by a more than two-to-one margin among poll respondents for perceived reliability of its reporting: 38 percent in the poll believe the ’net is the most reliable, compared to 17 percent for TV, 16 percent for print, and 13 percent for radio.

The poll suggests, however, that efforts by traditional news media — TV, print and radio — to drive consumers to their respective Web sites are working. Forty-nine percent in the poll say national newspaper Web sites are very important to them; 43 percent characterize sites for national TV news sources the same way. Forty-one and 34 percent, respectively, said the same of their local newspaper and television news Web sites.

The outlook for www is even better: 82 percent anticipate the Internet being the dominant news provider five years from now.

An interesting demographic trend emerged in the poll: Democrats were more likely to favor traditional news sources than their Republican counterparts. Only 50 percent of Dems prefer Internet above all others; 56 percent of Republicans have the same preference. Seventeen percent of Democrats, given their druthers, would only read newspapers; for Republicans, that bunch withers to 5 percent.

Nearly 85 percent of Americans now have Internet access, and it’s notable that the poll was conducted on-line only. Zogby insists, however, its polling methodology had only a negligible effect on the poll’s outcomes.