The Internet finally surpasses…newspapers?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Pew Research Center published their annual ‘State of the News Media’ study earlier this month. One of the big takeaways was that for the first time ever more people are turning to the Internet than to newspapers to get their news.

This victory was actually a narrow one for Mr. Internets. At the end of 2010, roughly 34% of respondents said that they read news online within the past 24 hours. 31% of those polled responded by saying that they read the newspaper. This was pretty surprising to me. I was pretty sure that no one was reading newspapers anymore.

Those of us in the digital bubble often forget that traditional media still has such a big share of voice for something as timely as news. It seems a tad out of tune to me that so many folks are still relying on a daily news printout that has to be hand delivered to their door; especially when pretty much all of it could be immediately called up online. I often think about conversations with my grandchildren going something like this:

“Do you know we used to print out millions of copies of the news every day that 14-year-olds would deliver to our doors on their bikes? Then we would just throw it away when we were done with it.”
“You’d just throw paper away every day?”
“Yep. Now, go fetch me my jet pack so we can get to the pub in time to watch president Zuckerberg’s inaugural address on the 8D big screen.”

I suppose that newspapers have always had a big advantage: they’re portable, flexible and disposable. The ‘State of the News Media Study’ also found that nearly half of respondents got at least some of their news from a mobile phone or tablet device. That is the kind of trend that will accelerate the daily paper’s descent into irrelevance.