Several pathways and venues to our news

Nov. 19, 2021
by Mark Ollig

Of course, we still use printed media, as many of you are reading this column in your local newspaper.

Or, you may be reading or having the words of today’s column audibly spoken to you through your smartphone, computer, e-reader, or another digital device.

Familiar sources for obtaining our news include print, television, radio, and online digital venues.

Our good friends at Pew Research recently released information about our news consumption habits across digital, television, radio, and print platforms.

Of adults polled during 2021, a total of 84% reported they often and/or sometimes got their news from a digital device such as a smartphone, computer, tablet, or other digital sources.

When looking at digital devices as their news source, 51% of adults polled said they often get their news from them. In comparison, 33% responded with sometimes, 8% said rarely, and another 8% said they never get their information from digital devices.

In 2020, 60% responded by saying they often get their news from digital devices.However, this year saw a 9% drop with a polling result of 51%, which surprised me.

In 2020, 40% said they often used television as a news source, while in 2021, 36% said they did. So again, we see a percentage drop.

Polling results from adults getting their news from radio showed that in 2020, 16% often did, 34% replied sometimes, and 28% said rarely.

This year, 15% responded with often using radio, 36% said sometimes, and 27% reported rarely getting their news from radio sources.

This year’s response is the same as in 2020; 10% of adults polled said they often use newsprint publications as their news source.

Interestingly, in 2020, 22% of adults responded saying they sometimes used print media for their news source, compared with this year’s 24% response.

Asked which platforms they preferred to get their news over, 50% responded with digital devices; the same as when polled in 2020.

Looking at digital news sources online, Pew asked adults where they obtained their news. Again, leading are websites or news apps, with 28%. Last year, 34% preferred them, so this year’s polling shows a 6% decline.

This year, some 20% of adults reported using a search engine often to obtain news, a 3% decline than in 2020 when 23% often used one.

In 2021, a reported 43% said they sometimes used a search engine, while 19% responded with rarely using one.

Using social media to obtain news often was the preference for 19% of adults, a 4% drop from 2020.

Podcasts have seen their popularity go up and down over the years; this year, 7% of adults often use it for their news source. In 2020, it was 6%. For 2020 and 2021, 16% report sometimes using a podcast for their news consumption, with 53% and 56% in 2020 and 2021, respectively, saying they never use it.

The most preferred news consumption sources among digital devices are websites and news apps, of 24% of adults polled.

Pew Research Center is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, its primary funder.

While I use digital devices to obtain news from various online media sources, I still watch television news programs and read news stories via print media.

For one, I am old-school and enjoy holding and paging through the newspaper, its tactile feel, and how the print looks in the light.

One advantage a newspaper does hold over a digital device is that it does not require the charging of batteries.

For those using a digital device, you can read Bits and Bytes on my weblog at https://bitscolumn.blogspot.com.

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