“Old Media” still the preferred choice for news

March 19, 2010 HeathG Media

Earlier this week, Essential Media published data on how Australians get their news. The research has been reported by both Crikey and the SMH, so rather than replicate their coverage I thought I’d do a quick comparison to some similar research from the USA released earlier this month by Pew.

Television is the most popular source of news for both Americans and Australians. In Australia, 75% of respondents watch commercial tv news or current affairs at least several times a week.[1] This is fairly similar to the US, where on a typical day 78% of Americans get news from a local tv network and 73% gets news from a national tv network.

Newspapers readership in the US and Australia also appears to be at similar levels. About 48% of Aussies pick up the newspaper several times a week or more. Jump across to the US and 50% of Americans get news from a local newspaper on a typical day – with 17% checking out major national paper such as the NY Times or USA Today.

The situation with radio is less clear. A bit under half (46%) of Australians get news from commercial radio at least several times a week, with 28% getting news from ABC Radio. Without knowing the overlap between commercial and ABC radio listeners, it’s not possible to nail down an overall radio figure. However unless the majority of ABC listeners shun commercial radio, the proportion of Aussies getting news form the radio is likely to be similar to the USA, where 54% of Americans claim to get news from a radio program on a typical day.

The biggest difference between Australians and Americans is in the popularity of the Internet as a news source. Essential’s research indicates 45% of Australians get news from the internet at least several times a week. By contrast, 61% of Americans source news from the Internet on a daily basis.

For all the talk about the demise of the ‘old’ media and the wonders of ‘new media’, it seems more traditional media continue to play an important role in keeping Australian’s informed of whats new.

[1] The survey by Essential Research asked respondents to indicate how frequently they consumed different types of media – daily, several times a week, about once a week, less often, never or don’t know. The US data is drawn from a Pew survey that asks whether respondents would consume different types of media on a typical day.

Since “Daily” is not the same as “Typical Day” the decision was made to use a combination of “Daily” and “Several Times a Week” from the Essential Research as the basis for comparison against a typical day. The basis of this assumption is that respondents will view ‘typical’ as being similar to average day. i.e. not necessarily every day of the week, but more often than not.

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