80% of Online Americans Read Internet News

Four out of five adults (80%) who are online report that they have used the Internet to read some kind of news in the last seven days. The types of online news used by the largest numbers of people are the weather (60% of all those online), national news (56%), international news (44%) and local news (36%). Currently 69% of all U.S. adults are online from home, work, school, library or other location.

A quarter (26%) of people who go online for news say that this use of the Internet reduces their use of other media such as television, newspapers, news magazines and the radio. But most (57%) say that it does not change their use of other news media, while 13% say that it changes their use of other media but doesn't reduce it.

These are some of the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,415 adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive between April 13 and 18, 2004. Some of the other findings are: Many of the questions in this research were suggested by Leo Bogart, the distinguished media research expert. Reacting to these results, Mr. Bogart said, "Every new information medium that has come along has brought fresh advantages in making people aware of what is happening in the world, without diminishing the unique functions of the media that came before it. News on the Internet follows this pattern, as this study demonstrates. Many of those who go online believe that this has cut into the time they spend with newspapers and TV news, but the typical Internet user checks the news only once a day for a total of an hour a week. When a big story is breaking and people are eager to learn the latest developments, they'll get the bulletins fast on the Internet. That may make them all the more interested in the full details they can check out elsewhere."

TABLE 1: TYPES OF NEWS PEOPLE HAVE GONE ONLINE FOR IN LAST SEVEN DAYS
"Have you gone online for any of the following kinds of news in the last seven days? (Please select as many as apply)
Base: All adults online (69% of U.S. adults)
All Adults Online
The weather 60%
National news 56%
International news 44%
Local news about my home town or community 36%
News about movies or television 31%
Sports news 31%
Business and financial news 27%
News of my home state 26%
News about elections, candidates or politicians 23%
News about movie or television stars 16%
News about sports personalities 10%
Have not gone online for any news in the last seven days 20%


Note: This is a multiple response question, so percentages will not add up to 100%.


TABLE 2: HOW MUCH TIME SPENT ONLINE FOR NEWS IN LAST WEEK
"In the last week, how much time would you estimate that you have spent online reading or looking at all these kinds of news?"
Base: Went online for any kind of news in the last week
Total
29 minutes or less 23%
30 - 59 minutes 25%
1 -2 hours 25%
More than 2 hours to 4 hours 14%
More than 4 hours to 5 hours 6%
More than 5 hours 8%
Median 1 hour
Note: Percentages may not add up exactly due to rounding.


TABLE 3: HOW MANY TIMES ONLINE FOR NEWS IN LAST WEEK
"About how many times have you gone online for this kind of news in the last week?"
Base: Went online for any kind of news in the last week
Total
1 - 5 times 35%
6 - 10 26%
11 - 20 12%
21 - 30 4%
31 - 40 1%
41 or more 1%
Not sure 21%
Median 7 times


TABLE 4: TYPES OF SITES USUALLY VISITED FOR NEWS
"When you go online for this kind of news, do you usually visit . . .?" (Select as many as apply)
Base: Went online for any kind of news in the last week
Total
Just the headlines on the home page of my service provider 48%
A website of a newspaper 45%
A website of an online news service 37%
A website of a TV network or station 37%
A website of a magazine 10%
Another kind of website 24%
Note: This is a multiple response question, so percentages will not add up to 100%.


TABLE 5: EFFECT OF ONLINE ACTIVITY ON USE OF OTHER MEDIA
"What effect does your use of the Internet to look for news have on your use of other media such as television, newspapers, magazines, and the radio? Does it replace or reduce your use of those media or does it add to your other news sources?"
Base: Went online for any kind of news in the last week
Total
It doesn't change my use of other media 57%
It reduces my use of other media 26%
It changes my use of other media but doesn't reduce it 13%
Not sure 4%


TABLE 6: WHICH MEDIA ARE USED LESS BECAUSE OF ONLINE ACTIVITY
"Which media do you think you use less because you go online for news?"
Base: If It does reduce (26% of those who went online for news in last week)
Total
Television 39%
Newspapers 47%
Magazines 9%
Radio 4%
Note: Percentages may not add up exactly due to rounding.


TABLE 7: HOW MUCH PEOPLE READ WHEN THEY GO ONLINE FOR NEWS
Q: "When you go online for news, which of the following do you usually do on a typical day?"
Q: "And what do you do if you know that a major news event has occurred?"
Base: Went online for any kind of news in the last week
On A Typical Day When Major Event Has Occurred
Just read the headlines 15% 4%
Read a paragraph or two 40% 18%
Read a page or more 45% 78%


TABLE 8: TIME SPENT EACH WEEKDAY READING NEWSPAPERS OR NEWS MAGAZINES OR WATCHING NEWS ON TV
Q: "Roughly how much time each weekday do you spend reading a newspaper or news magazine?"
Q: "And roughly how much time do you spend each weekday watching the news (not other shows) on TV?"
Base: All adults online (69% of U.S. adults)
Reading Newspapers or News Magazines Total
None 19%
1 - 15 minutes 25%
16 - 30 minutes 24%
31 minutes to 1 hour 21%
More than 1 hour 11%


The Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between April 13 and 18, 2004 among a nationwide cross section of 2,415 adults aged 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. "Propensity score" weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of + or - 2 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (non-response), question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online sample was not a probability sample.

Posted on May 21, 2004

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