The People Have Spoken

Nothing really new here, except that the numbers are becoming overwhelming: a new Zogby poll finds that most Americans prefer the Internet as a news source—more so than newspapers, TV and radio combined. Oh, and they consider the Internet more reliable than those other media, as well.

As if that wasn't bad enough news for the traditionalists, get this: only 1 in 200 of those surveyed—you read that right, 1 in 200, or one half of 1 percent—believe that newspapers will be a "dominant source" of news within five years. Would somebody please remember to turn out the lights in the pressroom?

Some interesting breakdowns within the numbers, though. Newspaper Web sites do well, with 41 percent of respondents describing them as important sources of news. Facebook scored 10 percent; Twitter scored 4 percent.

The usual caveats: 3,000 respondents, 1.8 percent margin of error. But that's still not enough to make the future of newspapers look any brighter. The readers are voting with their feet—or their fingertips and mice.

Hat tip to Greg Sterling for spotting this.

2 thoughts on “The People Have Spoken

  1. Statistics geek here: While I don’t disagree that the results for newspapers are grim, I do need to mention, pursuant to your caveat, that “the survey contacted 3,000 people.” That’s a huge difference from getting 3,000 responses. They don’t say how many completed responses they got, and they don’t give the confidence level for that margin of error, so these numbers could be spot-on or they could be wildly inaccurate. Numbers without statistical context will sit still for anything.
    I also don’t see much detail here about methodology — was the contact simply an email to a list, with a link, which means it’s an opt-in survey? — which only heightens my suspicion that some of the results don’t mirror the American demography overall. I think the best you can extrapolate from these numbers as they’re currently presented is overall trends; I wouldn’t give too much credibility to much of the drilldown.

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  2. Are survey questions careful to distinguish between the source of news and its means of delivery? If someone asks me whether I get my news in print or online, I can say online without hesitation. If I’m asked whether I get my news from the Internet or newspapers, I do not know how to answer, because the sources are (mostly) newspapers and their traditional kin, but they come to me by way of the Internet.

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