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Rural Blog: Study says Americans twice as likely to get news through smartphones than newspapers

Americans are twice as likely to access news through smartphones than newspapers, says a study commissioned by Nielsen and the Knight Foundation.

Television remains the top source of news, but smartphones are second. Of the 144 million U.S. adults who own smartphones, 89 percent access news and information through the devices.

“While mobile users only spend 5 percent of mobile time on news, on average, the time they do spend includes ‘hard’ news about current events and global news, as opposed to routine weather reports and other forms of ‘soft’ news.” Since 2011 the number of adults who own smartphones has risen from 46 percent to 82 percent.


The study found that 70 percent of respondents get their news from television, 54 percent from social networking websites or apps, 43 percent from media websites or the radio, 34 percent from media apps and 27 percent from newspapers.

Only magazines, at 16 percent, scored lower than newspapers.

Young millennials (ages 18–24) are three or four times “more likely than typical online adults to go to news content from Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. African-Americans are 2.5 times more likely than typical online adults to go to news content from Twitter.” (Knight graphic: sources used for news)

The study does suggest that growth of smartphone use for news is slowing, “suggesting a plateau might be near,” Benjamin Mullin reports for Poynter. The growth of mobile apps, in particular, has slowed, with adoption rates mostly flat across the industry (with the exception of Flipboard).

The stagnation of growth among news apps has come as users are spending an increasing amount of time on social media, according to the report. Mobile news seekers spend an average of 5 percent of their time on news every month. But 27 percent of their time is spent on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Nearly two-thirds of Facebook’s users (70 percent) use Facebook for news every day” and “people who read about news on social media often talk about it in person.”

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The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

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