- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Consumers are not quite ready to surrender their newspapers or stop watching the local news in favor of Web logs and other emerging information sources, a new poll says.

Researchers at the University of Southern California found that 69 percent of Americans rely on the local newspaper for information, and 74 percent tune to local TV news.

As for the much-ballyhooed “new media,” the researchers found that only 13 percent visit blogs. Less than 5 percent get their news through podcasts or delivered through a cell phone.

“This heavy reliance [on newspapers and TV] cuts across all generations,” stated the survey of 1,490 adults, plus 500 persons employed in communication fields.

“What’s clear is that consumers still rely heavily on traditional media for the information they need to make purchasing decisions and to consider issues,” the survey stated.

It also discredited a few “media myths.”

Blogs do not “dominate” the news and information field, and surprisingly, social-networking sites such as MySpace.com attract people of all ages. Forty-two percent of 18- to 24-year-olds frequent the sites — but so do 10 percent of those from 45 to 54, for example.

The researchers also questioned the idea that young people don’t read newspapers. They found that more than half of the 18- to 24-year-olds read their local newspapers, with 16 percent turning to large national newspapers.

The survey was conducted Sept. 6-20 and released Tuesday. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The Pew Research Center also found that Americans are not yet rushing to embrace the new media. A survey of national news habits earlier this year revealed that only 4 percent of respondents overall seek out blogs. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, the figure only rose to 9 percent.

“The arrival of the Internet as a news option has not changed the basic pattern of news consumption over the past decade,” the survey stated.

Less than a quarter of Americans overall — 23 percent — went online to retrieve news, actually down a point from a similar Pew survey taken two years earlier. Newspaper Web sites did not fare so well: Only 9 percent of the respondents actually read their paper online, the survey found.

While most Americans are far from being insatiable news junkies, most at least have a regular news habit. Pew found that 81 percent of the nation monitors the news daily, down from 90 percent in 1994. How much time gets allocated? Whether they read, listen watch or log on to retrieve it, Americans on average spend 67 minutes a day getting their news fix.

The most time (30 minutes) went to TV, followed by radio (16 minutes) and newspapers (15 minutes.) The lowest proportion — 6 minutes — was devoted to Internet use.

The Pew poll of 3,406 adults was released July 30 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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