According to a new study by the Annenberg School for Communication, the number of Americans who say that newspapers are an important source of information continues to wane. The survey finds that only 56 percent of Internet users surveyed agreed that “newspapers were an important or very important source of information,” while 68 percent said that television was. Further, 78 percent said that the Internet was an important source of information. Interestingly, the study did not include radio as an information source.
While in a different study, the Pew Internet and American Lifeproject, did ask where people get their information, they found that 61 percent of Americans said they get at least “some of their news” online. They compare that with 54 percent who said they listen to a radio news program, and 50 percent who said they read a national or local print newspaper.
How does “some of their news” online compare with other forms of media, when they conclude that “almost all respondents, 92 percent, said they get their news from more than one platform,” according to CNN’s reporting of the story? These surveys illustrate radio’s dilemma. While Arbitron studies continue to find that radio listenership is steady, with radio reaching 92% of all U.S. consumers every week, few studies bother to drill down and find out what slice of the information pie radio and other mediums are receiving.
Yet it is radio’s programming of news and information that has led to news, news-talk and talk stations collectively making up the number one most listened to radio format, based on total number of listeners in the U.S. Concluding, as the Pew study does, that almost all respondents get their news from more than one platform does not help programmers understand media consumption and, therefore, does not provide what it is that media consumers get and want out of their information sources.
A more illuminating study would be one that asks consumers to chart out how much they use particular mediums in a day for their news and information needs to see a truer reflection of people’s media consumption habits.