Digital news continues to evolve, pushed by a variety of innovations in recent years, from groundbreaking new technologies like virtual reality and automated reporting to experiments on social platforms that have altered campaign coverage. As journalists and media practitioners gather for the annual Online News Association Conference, here are 10 key findings from recent Pew Research Center surveys and analyses that show how these rapid digital shifts are reshaping Americans’ news habits:
About four-in-ten Americans now often get news online. Digital is currently second only to TV news as the most prominent news platform. Nearly twice as many adults (38%) often get news online than get news in print (20%). Younger adults are especially likely to turn to the web for their news, while older Americans rely heavily on TV for their news. Print newspapers are still relatively popular among older Americans, but very few younger Americans say they read them often.
Mobile is becoming a preferred device for digital news. The portion of Americans who ever get news on a mobile device has gone up from 54% in 2013 to 72% today. Two-thirds (66%) of Americans get news on both desktop/laptop and mobile, but more of those prefer mobile (56%) than desktop (42%).
Long-form journalism has a place in today’s mobile-centric society. Cellphone users spend more time on average with long-form news articles than with short-form. In fact, the total engaged time with articles 1,000 words or longer averages about twice that of the engaged time with short-form stories: 123 seconds compared with 57. And on average, long-form content attracts about the same number of visitors as short-form content.
More than half (55%) of U.S. smartphone users get news alerts, but few get them frequently. When asked whether they take action on the news alerts they receive, about half say they click through to the full story or search for more information (47% of those who get alerts, or 26% of smartphone users overall).
Social media, particularly Facebook, is now a common news source. Overall, 62% of U.S. adults get news on social media, and 18% do so often. However, news plays a varying role across the social networking sites studied. Two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) get news on the site, which amounts to 44% of the general population. Nearly as many Twitter users say they get news on Twitter (59%), but due to Twitter’s smaller user base this translates to just 9% of the general population.