October 10, 2006

The News Consumer’s Conundrum

Percent of Respondents
Prefer TV News on TV 78.2
Prefer TV News on a PC 13.2
Prefer to read Newspaper as print 77
Prefer to read Newspaper online 17.6
Would pay for info. online 3.9
Would try to find free website 79.4
Want news up to the minute 91.1
Imp to get TV news when I want 73.4
Would like to interact with TV news 60.6

It seems today’s news consumers are looking for the best of both worlds. They want instantaneous information delivered on demand, but at the same time, they’re far more comfortable with traditional “old media” platforms.

Those findings are contained in a new study on the “Future of the News” released by the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation (RTNDF) and conducted by respected researcher Bob Papper of Ball State University.

The TV screen was a clear winner in the survey of more than 1,000 adults. When asked if they would prefer to get their TV news through some other medium, a large majority declined. They overwhelmingly preferred their television (78.2%) as the best platform for receiving “TV news” to the computer (13.6%) or a handheld electronic device (3.6%).

Those concerned about the future of the print newspaper industry can find comfort here as well. Three-quarters of all respondents (77%) say they would rather read their newspaper in print than on a computer.

Indeed, it seems that online news is desirable only if it’s free. Most people (78%) said they are not interested in paying for online content and if the site they were visiting were to charge them, 79% say they’d try and find another one.

But while people prefer their traditional media choices, they are looking for more up-to-date content. Seventy percent of them wanted news on-demand, with 9 out of 10 saying it’s important for news to be right up to the minute. They are also interested in having a say in what they see. More than 60% would like to interact with their news – defined as pushing a button to get more information on the news story.

So according to the survey, Americans want a new media, but is it possible? They want a TV newscast in which they can tell the anchor what to report, and a print newspaper that somehow updates itself in their hands. And they don’t want to pay any more than they already have to.