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Papers, TV still top news sources

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 18, 2008

Many of us are still wedded to old ways when it comes to getting our news.

Almost half of Americans - 46 percent - continue to get their news from traditional sources such as a daily newspaper or local television, according to research released Sunday.

About 23 percent favor a mix of the traditional fare and online sources, and 13 percent get their daily news primarily from the Internet. About 14 percent said they simply don't follow the news much.

That trend is more pronounced among people younger than 25. A third of them said they get no news whatsoever in a typical day, according to a wide-ranging survey from the Pew Research Center. The survey of 3,615 adults was conducted between April 30 and June 1, and had a margin of error of three percentage points.

About 10 percent of those polled said they read political blogs, though the numbers tip higher when personal politics enter the mix. The largest blog audience is among liberal Democrats - 16 percent read the online missives - followed by conservative Republicans, at 12 percent.

Nine percent of those surveyed said they regularly watch online news videos, and 7 percent post comments online about news stories.

Meanwhile, the survey delivered some good news for news organizations across the board. Eight out of 10 Americans remain a friendly audience. More than half - 52 percent - said they enjoy keeping up with news "a lot," while 32 percent said they enjoy the news at least some of the time.

More than two-thirds said it is "pretty easy" to make time to take in the news, and 60 percent said they do not feel "overloaded" with news.

Emotional attachment to traditional outlets is strong. Sixty-nine percent of those who watch network news and 59 percent of newspaper readers, for example, said they would miss those sources "a lot" if they were no longer available, and 20 percent said they would miss both sources "some."

The nation's overall favorite news topic? Etiquette maven Emily Post would approve: It's the weather (preferred by 48 percent), followed by crime, education, the local community, the environment, politics, local government, health, sports and religion.

International issues are preferred by a mere 16 percent. Rounding out the bottom tier of less-preferred topics are business, consumer news, science, entertainment, arts, celebrity news and travel.

Of those who follow science and technology news, 71 percent are men and 29 percent are women. Men also crave sports, followed by business and finance, international affairs and politics. Among women, the leading topics are celebrity news, health, entertainment, religion and travel.