Skip to Content View Previous Reports

Audience

Audience

By the Project for Excellence in Journalism

What trends do we find in people using the Internet for news heading into 2006?

Our sense, looking across the data, is that:

  • The percentage of adult Americans who get news online at all appears to have stabilized.
  • But the ones who do are beginning to go there more often.
  • The use of newspaper Web sites in particular is growing.
  • And there are various reasons researchers expect all those numbers to accelerate again.

The Number of Americans Online

While a Web site can gather all kinds of detailed information about its users, from the kind of products they buy to the time of day they log on, no clear method for tallying overall use of the World Wide Web has been firmly established. The best data still come largely from public opinion surveys, and one survey finding often contradicts another. What’s more, to understand the universe of news consumption online, one first has to define the broader universe of those who use the Internet at all.

For that universe, two survey groups — the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press — both put the number at about 7 out of 10 adults in 2005 using the Internet in some way. In absolute numbers , that would mean that roughly about 137 million adult Americans reported going online at the end of 2005.1

And the number may be higher if one includes more young people. The USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, asking not just about adults but about anyone 12 or older, found that 79% of Americans had gone online in 2005, up from 76% in 2003 and 71% in 2002.2 3

Online News Use

So how many of those people go online specifically for news? That answer, too, varies from one survey to the next, but some generalizations seem clear.

First, the vast majority of adults who use the Internet do at some time go there for news.

In 2005, approximately 70% of American adults who had gone online said they had used the Internet for news, roughly the same number as a year earlier, according to the Pew Internet project. In real numbers, that is approximately 97 million adult Americans. And with changes in population, that number is up from the 86 million estimated in November 2004.4

The main area of growth in 2005 seemed to be in regularity. Everyday use grew seven percentage points, according to the Pew Research Center, to roughly a third (34%) of users, up from 27% in 2004. Asking the question slightly differently, Pew Internet found that those who said they got news online “yesterday” was up to 30% of users, or three percentage points from 2004.5

Percent of Internet Users Who Access News Online
Percent accessing news online ever or yesterday, 2000 to 2005
Design Your Own Chart
Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project tracking surveys

Another way to measure online news appeal in relation to other news media is to flip the question around: Ask not if you go online for news but more broadly where you get most of your news. Measured that way, Americans’ reliance on the Internet for their daily news has doubled over the last few years. Survey research from Consumer Reports shows that 11% now get most of their news over the Web, up from just 5% in 2002.6

Thus, only slightly more people seem to be using the Web for news, but even more seem to be using it regularly — perhaps an even more important figure for those investing in the medium.

And there is some evidence that newspaper Web sites in particular are gaining. More than two thirds (67%) of American adults said they read either local or national newspaper Web sites in late 2005, an increase of five percentage points from earlier in 2005.7 If those people are substituting the online version of the paper for the print version, as some of the data suggest, that is probably one of the reasons print newspaper circulation losses are accelerating.

It is also worth repeating something we noted last year, that some observers say online news consumption numbers may be undercounted. First, the argument goes, people could get news from a variety of places they do not necessarily think of as news sites — such as the front page of Yahoo, MSN and AOL. And second, surveys do not usually include teenagers (link to “Youngest of the Young”), some of the heaviest users of the Web.8

Looking Ahead

How much growth in online news consumption can we expect to see in 2006 and beyond? Projecting online news use is necessarily speculative. Still, most observers do see growth continuing, though more slowly now than before. Jupiter Research, one of the key forecasters of online economics and audience figures, predicts that by 2010, overall Internet penetration will reach 74%, up from 68% in 2005, or roughly a 1 % increase each year over the next four years. While this suggests more of a “maturation phase” than explosive growth, it still signifies growth.9 And the evidence suggests that as overall Internet use grows, so will using the Internet for news.

Analysts cite three factors in predicting continued growth, two of which could increase not only the number of people who use the Internet but how much they do so:

  1. U.S. teenagers
  2. Racial and ethnic groups
  3. Broadband

Teenagers and Growth

Much of the existing survey research generally excludes those younger than 18 years of age, or the so-called “digital natives” in the words of Rupert Murdoch.10 Research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project show that nearly 9 in 10 teenagers (87%) are Internet users, compared to almost 7 in 10 (68%) adults.11

Moreover, teenagers are slightly more likely than adults to access news online, and their use is growing. In 2005, 76% of teens got news online — up from 38% in 2000, and six percentage points greater than those over 18, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. As the teenagers enter the general U.S. adult pool that pollsters usually draw from, overall online use should grow.

Ethnicity and Growth

There is also projected growth among several racial and ethnic groups, although those estimates are for overall Internet use and not exclusively news. Jupiter Research, for instance, estimates that African-American household penetration will grow from 56% to 64% from 2004 to 2010; Hispanic penetration from 52% to 64%, and Asian-American from 71% to 83%.12

Broadband and Growth

Finally, there is the question of how the expansion of broadband connections will affect news. “Broadband” is a term for high-speed Internet and data connections. More and more Americans are moving to this faster connection mode. And research suggests broadband users are more likely than dial-up users to perform a number of online activities, including consuming news. What’s more, there is a strong possibility that the availability and ease of accessing video news clips and stories over broadband connections will prompt further growth in online news consumption; growing numbers of news organizations are offering the video feature. There is also a possibility that as more private citizens contribute news content, either on formal news sites or on amateur sites and blogs, the menu of news will expand and attract new markets. Thus any increase in broadband adoption would logically include an increase in online news use as well.

Is the Net Cannibalizing Traditional Media?

Competition with newspapers and television for advertising revenue is front and center in the minds of those following the news industry. The economic implications are critical to the future of journalism and to what we can expect the media landscape to look like as the Net becomes a bigger factor in the American news diet.

In last year’s annual report, we cited evidence that online news use was beginning to chip away at overall television news consumption. And for the first time we saw more firm evidence of substitution in print newspaper audience numbers as well.

How do things look heading into 2006?

Newspapers

For print, there is even more evidence of cannibalization, and it seems to be occurring on two fronts, in consumption of news and in advertising dollars.

News consumption survey data from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press confirms what we saw last year, that some consumers who go to the online version of the newspaper are abandoning the print version. According to these data, more than a third (35%) of online newspaper readers say they are reading the print version “less often.”13

Another study looked at the question more deeply, concentrating on one market — Washington, D.C. The study, conducted by Matthew Gentzkow of the University of Chicago, developed a mathematical model to assess the extent to which online news either crowds out or complements print newspapers. According to that research, the city’s major online newspaper site, www.washingtonpost.com, reduced newspaper print readership by 27,000 a day, which Gentzkow called “a moderate amount.” To what extent other newspaper Web sites might be reducing Washington Post print readership was not clear.14

There also appears to be some difference in which kinds of newspaper readers are abandoning the print version. Data from the USC Annenberg School suggests that the heaviest online news readers were spending almost the same amount of time in 2005 with both the print and online versions of the paper as they were in 2003. But lighter online news consumers report spending less time with the print form in 2005.15 That might mean that newspapers will have a harder time in the future converting casual readers into core audience.

Yet the trend away from the print version has become a critical issue for the newspaper industry, most notably evidence that the Web is starting to compete with print newspapers’ biggest source of revenue: advertising. At the local level, consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet, at the expense of newspapers, for information about local products and services, according to research by the Kelsey Group and Constat, Inc. About 70% of households used the Web in February 2005 to hunt for local merchants and stores — up from 60% in October 2003. And the number of households seeking information about nearby stores and services from print newspapers has slightly declined, from 73% to 70%.16

Even more troubling for newspapers, some of the online sites that consumers are migrating to are not online newspapers but sites with no news at all, such as eBay and craigslist.17 Thus, as the dollar numbers already show, some of the advertising revenue in this migration online is moving away from journalism completely.

Television

Turning to television, the data also continue to be suggestive but not conclusive. For several years, some surveys suggested that online news consumption was chipping away at television news viewing even more than with newspapers .

Three new surveys added to this sense in 2005. Research by Nielsen/Net in the winter of 2005 found that 47% of respondents who go online for news or information said they spent more time online than a year before, and some 20% said they spent less time watching television.18 And a survey by Big Research, an online marketing research firm, looked at general media use among Americans 18 to 24 years old and concluded that increased use of new media in that age group had had a “negative effect” on television viewing.19 Finally, survey findings from Jupiter Research suggest Americans are now spending as much time with the Web as they are with television.20

But there was some contradictory evidence in 2005 as well. Prof . Bob Papper of Ball State University argues that telephone surveys of ten fail to provide full information on how much media Americans consume every day . For the last two years, Papper has conducted observational studies in Muncie, Ind., that found no evidence that overall online consumption comes directly at the expense of overall television consumption.

And Papper’s conclusions are supported by the large base of data on the Internet from the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School . It found that weekly television viewing increased last year among online news consumers , particularly among the lightest online news consumers.21

In the end, the impact on television is now less clear than it appeared to be a few years ago, and is something to watch.

Younger Americans and the Web

Is the Web still ruled by the young? While it may be true that young people are the heaviest users of the dizzying array of available online functions such as instant messaging and downloading music, does that also apply to online news use?

Young Americans clearly lead the way in a number of non-news activities available to Internet users. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, they are most likely to say they use instant messaging, visit an adult Web site, take part in a chat room, use online classified sites like craigslist to sell or buy something, download music, watch a video clip or listen to an audio clip, play video games online, gamble online, look for information about a job or place to live, share files, participate in a fantasy sports league, and use a Webcam.22

It also turns out that young people are considerably more likely than other age groups to say the Internet is their main source of news. Currently, 36% of those 18 to 29 say the Internet is their primary source, more than those 30 to 49 (30%), 50 to 64 (16%) and those over 65 (4%), according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.23

Other research also suggests that younger Americans rely on the Web as their main source of news to a greater degree than other age groups. Consumer Reports found that nearly one in five Americans (19%) 18 to 40 consider the Internet their primary news source, more than double those 41 to 59 (8%), and far surpassing those 60 or over (1%).24

There is evidence, however, that older Americans are more likely than younger ones to be frequent news consumers, which raises questions about the devotion of young people over time to any online news product, and about the best use of ad dollars.

While 29% of those 18 to 29 say they get news online every day, 37% of those 30 to 49 are every-day online news consumers, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.25

That is also true when the question is about going online for news “yesterday,” which is another way to measure frequent use. Just over a quarter (26%) of online users 18 to 29 years old received news yesterday, fewer than the 35% of online 30-to-49-year-olds or the 29% of those 50 to 64, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project.26

Finally, where do young Americans go for online news? The Carnegie Corporation of New York surveyed Americans 18 to 34 and found that Internet portals such as Yahoo were the most popular daily news source , with local TV news sites second, and network or cable TV sites and newspaper sites tied for third.27 This, too, could have major implications for the future, especially since newspaper Web sites are not high on th e list.

The Youngest of the Young

In the spring of 2005, the American Society of Newspaper Editors held its annual conference in Washington, D.C. Rupert Murdoch, managing director of News Corp., told the delegates about research by Merrill Brown for the Carnegie Corporation of New York that evaluated media patterns among Americans 18 to 34. Specifically, Murdoch spoke about the future of newspaper journalism and how the industry needed to adapt in order to stay relevant to those even younger — teenagers and pre-teens — whom he referred to as “digital natives”:

“The challenge, however, is to deliver that news in ways consumers want to receive it. Before we can apply our competitive advantages, we have to free our minds of our prejudices and predispositions, and start thinking like our newest consumers. In short, we have to answer this fundamental question: what do we – a bunch of digital immigrants — need to do to be relevant to the digital natives?”28

There has been a lot of discussion of those digital natives, but how do they use media? In this year’s annual report, we have decided to expand our understanding of young people and the future of the Web to an even younger cohort, those 8 to 18 years old.

The Kaiser Family Foundation survey discussed earlier examined daily media consumption habits. In short, this study suggests this is a generation that still watches a lot of television, reads considerably less, and consumes a great deal of interactive media. Television is the most dominant media platform for these young Americans, with more than 8 in 10 watching for more than three hours on any given day. But only 6% of that viewing time was allocated to the news.

Meanwhile, these young people are spending very little time with the print medium outside of school or work. According to the study, “no single print medium garners attention from as many as 50% of kids, and fewer than 20% read for pleasure for more than an hour daily.” Just 43 minutes a day outside of school were spent on reading all print materials, and only six of those were devoted to newspapers.

Computer use outside of school and work was higher than print consumption and appeared to be growing. Children 8 to 18 spent over an hour a day with computers, more than doubling the 27 minutes a day reported in 1999, according to the study. Playing games was the most frequent activity; visiting Web sites ranked second.29

With all the obvious caveats about predicting the future, the findings have some potentially major implications. Unless habits change as these children become adults, the findings portend some significant changes in who will thrive and who will suffer online.

The overall trend appears to be an acceleration toward more visual, digital and interactive media platforms and further away from those with their history in print.

What Are People Reading Online?

How does choice of subjects among online readers compare with those among newspaper readers ?

Perhaps because online news competes with so many other activities that can be performed while one is “logged on,” users seem to gravitate to different topics here than they do when reading a print newspaper.

Surveys in 2003 and 2004 of daily print newspaper readers by Mediamark Research, Inc. found that the most read sections of the newspaper include general news (60%), sports (36%), the editorial page (37%), business and finance (35%), the classified pages (32%), and movie listings and reviews (27%).39

To get a sense of how those figures compare with online choices, we looked at the habits of regular users, in this case those who said they had gone online “ yesterday. ” The most recent data suggest that they are accessing something quite different online than they do in print. The types of news they go online regularly for include general news (30%), news or information about politics and the campaign (18%) , information about movies (13%), sports scores (11%) , financial information (8%) , and classified ads on sites like craigslist (6%).

Merely occasional online consumption, meanwhile, more closely resembles daily newspaper reader habits. The most recent data available from the Pew Internet and American Life Project showed that 73% of occasional online users say they had looked for “information about movies, music, books, or other leisure activities”; 72% had at some time read general “news”; 44% ha d gone online to “get financial information, such as stock quotes or mortgage interest rates”; 43% said they had gone online to “check sports scores or information” and 36% ha d used “online classified ads or sites like craigslist to sell or buy items, find a job, or meet other people online.”40

Blogs

Following extraordinary growth in 2004, perhaps fueled by a highly partisan presidential election, it appears blog readership slowed in 2005. Although blogs are often seen as a symbol of the new, democratized citizen media that Dan Gillmor and others have championed, there is some evidence that the heaviest readers of blogs are members of the Washington establishment.

Meanwhile, bloggers wrestled with ethical questions about the impact advertising could have on their content, and a debate emerged on Capital Hill and in the courts on whether bloggers had the same legal rights as traditional journalists.

Blog Readership

After extraordinary growth in 2004, the data suggest blog readership slowed in 2005.41 From February 2004 to January 2005, the number of online Americans who said they had ever read a blog increased nearly 60% — from 17% to 27%, according to the Pew Internet project. Since then, the percentage of blog readers has remained stable.42

But in aggregate numbers, that means blog readership grew from 32 million to 37 million. With overall growth of the Internet population, that still means 16% more people were blog readers by the end of 2005, compared to the end of 2004.43 But the explosion in blog consumption, for now, appears over.

Regular blog readership, as distinct from occasional or one-time, has not grown much, either. According to the Pew Internet Project, the proportion of Internet users who were regularly reading blogs year to year remained at 7%.44

With only about a quarter of the population having ever read one, blogs remain a relatively unfamiliar platform for much of the public. In February 2005, only 26% of Internet users said they were “very familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with blogs, according to a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll.45

And who makes up this minority of Americans who consume blogs? Research suggests they are more likely to be younger and male. And ironically, the most fervid blog readers are journalists — the group perhaps that feels most threatened by them.46

Indeed, there is some evidence that blogs have become a fundamental part of journalists’ news diet. A 2005 University of Connecticut study found that 41% of journalists access blogs at least once a week and 55% say they read blogs as part of their work duties.4748

Blog Creators

The growth in number of Americans who produce blogs also appears to have slowed. In 2004, the number of blog creators doubled, which meant that 10% of Internet users had written a blog at some point, according to data from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.49 In 2005, the growth was much more modest, up just 5% from the year before. That translated into roughly 9 million American adults who had created blogs by the end of 2005.50

There is some contradictory evidence if one looks not at the number of bloggers but the number of blogs — different sites on different subjects. As of January 2006, Technorati had indexed nearly 27 million blogs spanning about 1.9 billion links, and estimated earlier that 70,000 new blogs were being created every day.51 Other research shows an even larger blogosphere. Perseus Research, a Massachusetts-based developer of Web survey systems, estimated that the number of blogs could exceed 53 million by the end of 2005.52

Why the discrepancy? How could the growth in bloggers be slowing while more blogs are being identified? It could be because Technorati’s index includes blogs worldwide while survey research is generally conducted exclusively among Americans. It also could be that the software identifying blogs is improving. Or it could be that some individual blog creators are creating more than one blog.

Whatever it is, the growth in the blogosphere appears more robust than the growth in the audience for it.

(Please see “Changes in the Blogosphere” in the side bar for a discussion on how the blogosphere is adapting to technological advances).

Blogging Economics

The next big question is whether blogging can make money by becoming a substantial ad platform. While bloggers have so far been reluctant to say publicly how much revenue their sites generate, it seems that most still need day jobs to pay the bills. In an interview with the New York Observer, Nick Denton, the host and publisher of Gawker Media (described by Arianna Huffington as the “Rupert Murdoch of the blogosphere”) said he charged $4 for every 1,000 appearances, or page views, of an ad. If the blog got, say, 5.5 million page views a month, that would be $22,000 in monthly revenue.

But then again, how many bloggers actually generate 5.5 million page views a month? As David Hauslaib, founder of Jossip and Queerty, told Wired magazine, “At the bare minimum, a lone blogger will likely need to attract high four-to-five-figure daily visitor figures to even attempt a blog-based livable wage.”56 The number of blogs getting thousands or tens of thousands of unique visitors is small indeed.57

There is growing evidence, however, that blogs have the potential to become a more attractive investment for advertisers by becoming more integrated into corporate media. That presents a dilemma for the bloggers, many of whom wish to continue practicing an exclusively citizen-based form of journalism, which is their essence.

In October, AOL announced it had acquired Weblogs Inc., the publisher of nearly 90 blogs, for roughly $15 million and possibly as high as $25 million if Weblogs meets certain performance targets. The acquisition was seen as a move for AOL to increase its overall audience numbers and provide marketers with the opportunity to reach online niche markets.58 Other blog “collectives” have sprung up over the last few years, most notably Gawker Media, Weblogs, Inc. and B5 Media.59

And advertisers are curious. In early 2005, a Forrester Research survey found that 64% of national marketers said they were interested in placing ads on blogs.60

As suggested above, not every blogger is so eager to cash in. AOL’s acquisition, as well as the decision by Andrew Sullivan to take his blog to Time.com, created a stir within the blogging community. 61 Denton fears that the big media companies will destroy the independent, grass-roots spirit that bloggers believe separates them from the mainstream media, which they deride as the MSM: “The whole point about blogs is that they’re not part of big media,” Denton told the Washington Post. “Consolidation defeats that purpose. It’s way too early. Like a decade too early.”62 In November, Yahoo announced it was adding feeds from some of Gawker’s blogging team, though Denton emphasized that the blog content would only be licensed, not sold.63

Others, however, think most blogs will inevitably be forced into finding a business model. In the words of Edward Wasserman, Knight professor of journalism ethics at Washington and Lee University: “Everywhere the Internet is turning into the most skillfully calibrated marketing instrument since people first made money that folds. The whole logic of commercialization ensures a privileged platform for whatever moves products. That logic creates both noise and silences, loud benefits and quiet costs. It’s why none of this is free.”64

Katrina and the Internet

It is no longer a secret that disasters push people online in droves. The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 and the London bombings of July 2005 showed a flurry of online activity with citizen-produced content in the foreground. Blogs of eye-witness accounts, digital photography and amateur video delivered unedited reporting and reactions from the scene. When Katrina leveled the Gulf Coast in late August 2005, the Web was ready to deliver once more. What was different this time — with little citizen-produced content coming out of stricken Louisiana and Mississippi — was that mainstream media took the lead. Newspapers and television stations from New Orleans to Biloxi started blogs to provide constant updates from the field.

Some American news organizations also allowed bloggers to create blog posts on their sites or link to the sites of bloggers who were reporting from their communities. This practice followed the lead of the BBC, which did the same things for bloggers and vloggers during its coverage of the tsunami and the bombings in London.

Recognizing huge interest in the Katrina story, broadcast outlets packed their archives with storm footage. The Monday after the storm made landfall, visitors to CNN.com downloaded more than 9 million video clips. A week later the total figure had climbed to more than 35 million. MSNBC.com did even better with a record-setting 50 million clips streamed in a week.68 And WWL Channel 4, the only local outlet to stay on the air, provided a live Webcast of its coverage.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune emerged as a poster organization for its use of the Internet. The paper was forced to cease publishing its print version after the storm and moved to the Web, where it published an online edition for a couple of days. In addition to the staff-updated blogs and photo archives, nola.com provided neighborhood forums to allow evacuees and their families to connect and share information about loved ones and their neighborhoods. The August traffic on nola.com jumped by 277% compared to July.

The online pundit Jeff Jarvis, who blogs at BuzzMachine.com, wrote in a column in the Guardian: “Trust me: before Katrina, this is not how American newspaper editors talked about the Web and Weblogs. But after Katrina, they will.”

Other large media organizations seized the power of the Web to document the magnitude of the storm — the New York Times produced detailed interactive graphics, while the Washington Post carried NASA simulations showing New Orleans under water. Interest in the storm was so high that even the Weather Channel site registered record numbers of visitors.

In the immediate aftermath, citizen-created journalism would also establish a presence. New media mainstays such as blogs, the user-produced encyclopedia Wikipedia, and even the online classifieds giant craigslist were again up to the challenge. Based on an earlier experiment undertaken during the tsunami, Wikipedia created a Katrina portal that was a clearinghouse for news and relief information. Craigslist created special classifieds categories: temporary housing, volunteer listings and lost and found. The Yahoo-owned photo service Flickr allowed users to sort through thousands of images by looking for “tags,” or key words associated with the photographs. As of November 2005, more than 15,000 photos were tagged “hurricaneKatrina.”69

Non-media blogs, such as Metroblogging New Orleans, abounded, providing everything from accounts of the storm to commentary on the news to criticism of the relief effort. Blog-tracker Web sites like Technorati, which indexed nearly 27 million sites as of January 2005, offered separate listings of Katrina-themed postings.

The reporting challenges brought by the winds and surging water showed that the dinosaur the online world calls MSM can navigate the digital realm and even set the standard. After the rise of blogs in 2004, citizen-produced content was expected by some to dominate 2005. What happened instead was that mainstream news organizations caught up and blended old-fashioned reporting with new technology. And when they did, as in the case of Katrina, they came out on top.

Footnotes

1. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, unpublished data, January 2006. The Pew Project’s surveys in September and December 2005 found the number of American adults who accessed the Internet or sent e-mail at school, work, or home was 68%. That was nine percentage points higher than the total measured at roughly the same time in 2004.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Available online at: http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=248. Data from the Pew Research Center put the overall number of people who accessed the Internet at a similar level, 69%, but suggests that was just one percentage point higher than the total measured at roughly the same time in 2004.

2. Center for The Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School, “Fifth Study by the Digital Future Project Finds Major New Trends in Online Use for Political Campaigns,” December 7, 2005. Available online at: http://www.digitalcenter.org/pdf/Center-for-the-Digital-Future-2005-Highlights.pdf.

Meanwhile, survey data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which does not include e-mail use in its question, found that the number of people saying they had ever gone online was 74% in October 2004, fell to 66% in December 2004 and climbed back up to 70% in March 2005. 3. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, unpublished data, January 2006. According to the Internet Project, the percentage of the public going online “yesterday” grew by 2 percentage points in the last year — from 61% in November 2004 to 63% at the end of 2005. In absolute numbers that amounts to 16% growth from 75 million to 87 million in those who use the Internet to get news.

4. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, unpublished data, January 2006. The Internet Project found that 61% of adult Americans were at least occasional Internet users in the fall of 2005. Using 2004 adult population numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau Web site, we can estimate that 61% of the adult population is approximately 123 million adults. The PIP then found that 70% of adult Internet users, or 97 million, used the Internet to get news at least occasionally at the end of 2005. On methodology: PIP uses a lower Census base number to do its calculations. The adult population represented by its surveys in 2005 was 202 million. PIP surveys only in the 48 contiguous states and only the landline-phone-using population, which is about 92% to 94% of the entire population. Thus the online news user population would be calculated as 202 million times 68% (which gives the overall adult user population) times 70% (which gives the news-consuming population).

5. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls

6. Consumer Reports WebWatch, “Leap of Faith: Using the Internet Despite the Dangers,” October 26, 2005. Available online at: www.consumerWebwatch.org/pdfs/princeton.pdf.

7. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, “Alito Viewed Positively, But Libby Takes a Toll,” November 8, 2005. Available online at: http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=262.

8. According to Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, another possible reason for the undercount is that simply asking the single generic question “Do you ever use the Internet to get news?” sometimes only prompts certain kinds of recollections among respondents. The Pew Internet Project recently found that asking more detailed questions yielded higher numbers of news consumers. For instance, some people who did not say “yes” to the question “Do you ever use the Internet to get news?” did say “yes” to the questions “Have you ever used the Internet to get international news?” and “Have you ever used the Internet to get local news?”

9. ClickZ, “Internet Penetration: Critical Mass, Then What?” July 6, 2005. Available online at: http://www.clickz.com/experts/crm/actionable_analysis/article.php/3517561.

10. News Corporation press release, “Speech by Rupert Murdoch to the American Society of Newspaper Editors,” April 13, 2005. Available online at: http://www.newscorp.com/news/news_247.html.

11. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Teen Content Creators and Consumers,” November 2, 2005.

12. ClickZ, “Internet Penetration: Critical Mass, Then What?” July 6, 2005. Available online at: http://www.clickz.com/experts/crm/actionable_analysis/article.php/3517561.

13. Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Complete findings can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/248.pdf.

14. University of Chicago, “Valuing New Goods in a Model with Complementarity: Online Newspapers,” Matthew Gentzkow, January 24, 2006. Available online at: http://www.gsb.uchicago.edu/fac/matthew.gentzkow/research/PrintOnline.pdf.

15. Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School, unpublished data, January 2006.

16. Wendy Davis, “Online Rivals Papers, Surpasses Yellow Pages Among Local Shoppers,” Media Daily News, March 23, 2005.

17. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Selling items online,” November 2005. The Pew Internet and American Life Project has found that significant numbers of online Americans find online classified ads attractive. In September 2005, a Project survey found that 17% of Internet users had sold something online and 22% had used online classifieds ads. Data from comScore Media Metrix indicated that the most popular online-classified sites were places like the non-profit craigslist and for-profit auto and apartment-hunting sites. The report is available at: http://www.pewInternet.org/pdfs/PIP_SellingOnline_Nov05.pdf.

18. “washingtonpost.com: News consumption growing online,” Online Publishers Association Intelligence Report, March 7, 2006.

19. Center for the Media Research, “18-24 Year Olds Most Influenced by New Media,” July 11, 2005.

20. Heidi Dawley, “Time-wise, Internet is now TV’s equal,” Media Life Magazine, February 1, 2006.

21. And findings from yet still another survey — this one also looking at overall media use rather than just news — are more in line with Papper’s data. T he Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found Americans 8 to 18 years old are spending increasing time on new media such as the Internet but are not cutting back on such old media as TV, print and music. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds,” March 2005. Available online at: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/Generation-M-Media-in-the-Lives-of-8-18-Year-olds-Report.pdf.

22. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls

23. Television (70% saying it is their main source of news) is still the most popular news source for the 18 to 29 age group and newspapers (37%) are the second most popular, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Trailing the Internet (36%) are radio (18%) and magazines (6%). Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Complete findings can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/248.pdf.

24. Consumer Reports WebWatch, “Leap of Faith: Using the Internet Despite The Dangers,” October 26, 2005. Available online at: http://www.consumerWebwatch.org/pdfs/princeton.pdf.

25. Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Complete findings can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/248.pdf.

26. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls

27. Carnegie Corporation of New York, “Use of Sources for News.” Available online at: http://www.carnegie.org/pdf/AbandoningTheNews.ppt#0.

28. News Corporation press release, “Speech by Rupert Murdoch to the American Society of Newspaper Editors,” April 13, 2005. Available online at: http://www.newscorp.com/news/news_247.html.

29. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, “Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-olds,” March 2005. Available online at: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/Generation-M-Media-in-the-Lives-of-8-18-Year-olds-Report.pdf

30. Center for the Media Research, “Media Habits of Affluent Adults,” February 22, 2005.

31. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls

32. Ibid.

33. Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Complete findings can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/248.pdf.

34. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls

35. Pew Research Center for The People and The Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Complete findings can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/248.pdf.

36. Ibid. And as discussed above, Jupiter Research has projected that overall Internet penetration among Hispanics, Asian Americans and African Americans though this was general Internet use and not merely news (ClickZ, “Internet Penetration: Critical Mass, Then What?”, July 6, 2005. Available online at: http://www.clickz.com/experts/crm/actionable_analysis/article.php/3517561.)

37. Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists,” June 26, 2005. Complete findings can be found at http://people-press.org/reports/pdf/248.pdf.

38. Ibid. Meanwhile, the Digital Future Project found that the fastest growing use of the Internet for any purpose is among Americans with incomes of less than $30,000. Available online at: http://www.digitalcenter.org/pdf/Center-for-the-Digital-Future-2005-Highlights.pdf.

39. Media Mark Research, Inc. (Prepared by NAA Business Analysis and Research Department), “Newspaper Section Readership 2005,” Spring 2004 study. Available online at: http://www.naa.org/marketscope/readership2005/section_readership_2005.pdf.

40. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls

41. For a good definition of a blog, see “Towards a Critical Media Studies Approach to the Blogoshpere,” by Vincent Maher, a South African professor who writes on blogs and citizen journalism. Link: http://nml.ru.ac.za/menthol/?p=129. Another definition is offered in “Just what is a blog, anyway?” an article published by the Online Journalism Review at the University of Southern California.

42. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, “The state of blogging,” January 2005. Available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/pdfs/PIP_blogging_data.pdf.

43. Pew Internet and American Life Project, unpublished data, January 2006. Research from comScore Networks also reports that nearly 50 million Americans, or about 30% of the total U.S. Internet population, visited blogs in the first quarter of 2005. This was an increase of 45% compared to the first quarter of 2004. comScore Networks, “50 Million Americans Visited Blogs During the First Quarter 2005, According to New comScore study,” August 8, 2005.

Consumer Reports WebWatch, “Leap of Faith: Using the Internet Despite the Dangers,” October 26, 2005. Available online at: http://www.consumerWebwatch.org/pdfs/princeton.pdf. Other research from Consumer Reports also shows similar blog readership figures: 27% report having visited a blog in the past several months.

44. Pew Internet and American Life Project, unpublished data, January 2006.

45. And when asked about political blogs, the most popular type according to comScore research, just 2% report reading them daily, according to Gallup. As a comparison, the same research found that 39% watch cable news, 36% watch network news, and 21% listen to talk radio daily. CNN.com, “Poll: Most Americans unfamiliar with blogs,” March 3, 2005.

Close this window

46. Age. According to survey findings from Consumer Reports, 39% of those 18 to 29 read a blog in the past few months, compared to 22% of those 30 or older. Consumer Reports WebWatch, “Leap of Faith: Using the Internet Despite The Dangers,” October 26, 2005. Available online at: http://www.consumerWebwatch.org/pdfs/princeton.pdf. Other research from Consumer Reports also shows similar blog readership figures: 27% report having visited a blog in the past several months. Research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project also suggests that some of the youngest Americans may be heavier blog readers than older Americans. According to one survey, nearly four in 10 (38%) of those 12 to 17 say they read blogs. In addition, 40% of the Internet users ages 18-29 told the Pew Internet and American Life Project they were blog readers, compared with 20% of Internet users over 50. (Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Teen Content Creators and Consumers,” November 2, 2005). Gender. Research from Consumer Reports found that 3 in 10 men (30%) visited a blog site while 23% of women did. The Pew Internet and American Life Project also found differences in the overall reader audience of blogs — 30% of online men and 25% of online women said they were blog readers.

Income. Numbers from the Pew Internet and American Life Project show that household income does not matter much as a predictor of blog readership.

47. American Journalism Review, “Journalism’s Backseat Drivers,” August/September 2005.

48. Interestingly, the slowdown in blogs came even as technology was developed to make combing the blogosphere easier. For instance, Technorati, a search engine that crawls over 26 million blogs, has emerged as a popular source for navigating the blogosphere. Then in September 2005, Google launched blogsearch, a search engine specifically designed to sift through the blogosphere. In October, Yahoo News announced that its online news search tool would also begin adding blogs to its index — another potential boost to blog readership. MSN was expected to introduce one of its own in the immediate future as well. (Michael Liedtke, the Associated Press, “New Google Search Engine Boosts Blogging,” September 14, 2005). Finally, the elections of 2006 could revive interest — and growth — in blogs.

49. The Pew Internet and American Life Project. These numbers come from the “Usage Over Time” spreadsheet, available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/trends/UsageOverTime.xls. Also, different survey research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 19% of online users 12 to 17 years of age have created their own blogs — approximately 4 million people. The Pew Internet and American Life Project, “Generations online,” December 2005. Available online at: http://www.pewInternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Generations_Memo.pdf.

50. Pew Internet and American Life Project, unpublished data, January 2006. The key demographic story for blog creators in 2005 was the role of younger Americans. Some 19% of Internet users age 18 to 29 had created blogs, compared to 9% of Internet users over age 50, according to data from the Pew Internet project. Otherwise, there were not notable differences in blog creators among men and women, different races, or income classes.

51. Technorati Website, located at http://www.technorati.com/, last accessed January 31, 2006.

52. Perseus, ”The Blogging Geyser: Blogs Blast from 31.6 Million Today to Reach 53.4 Million by Year End.” April 8, 2005.

53. Robert MacMillan, “Tsunami Prompts Online Outpouring,” The Washington Post, January 3, 2005.

54. Antonio Regalado, “Video Blogs Break Out With Tsunami Scenes,” the Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2005.

55. “Mobile blogs give citizen journalism legs,” Reuters, May 21, 2005.

56. Adam L. Penenberg, “Can Bloggers Strike It Rich?” Wired News, September 22, 2005.

57. And how much advertising is there if a blog did have that kind of traffic? According to Charlene Li, an analyst at Forrester Research, businesses will have spent only $50 million to $100 million in 2005 on blogs, not much compared to spending levels on other media platforms. Louise Story, “As Corporate Ad Money Flows Their Way, Bloggers Risk Their Rebel Reputation,” The New York Times, November 26, 2005. Perhaps one reason advertisers have generally been reluctant to embrace the blogosphere relates to blogs’ unique raison d’etre. Blogs are by nature “imbued with the temper of their writer,” as the blogger Andrew Sullivan has put it. In other words, they are highly opinionated, which may turn off potential advertisers who do not want to market their products next to politically charged narrative. As one ad executive said, “The problem is that the blogs generating all the buzz are those that our clients think too risky to associate with.”

58. David A. Vise, “AOL to Buy Blog Site in Bid to Expand Reach,” The Washington Post, October 7, 2005.

59. For a fuller look at blog collectives, see Paul Berger’s “Get it together: Blog collectives seek to draw ads,” Online Journalism Review, December 9, 2005.

60. Louise Story, “As Corporate Ad Money Flows Their Way, Bloggers Risk Their Rebel Reputation,” the New York Times, November 26, 2005.

Scale is an important point when discussing advertising on blogs. Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads, estimates that the ad market for blog advertising is somewhere between $10 million and $20 million. Comparatively, the NAA projects that $49 billion was spent on advertising in newspapers in 2004. See Paul Berger’s “Get it together: Blog collectives seek to draw ads,” Online Journalism Review, December 9, 2005.

61. See Joshua Micah Marshall’s discussion of bloggers and editorial independence on his blog, Talking Points Memo, posted November 14, 2005.

62. David A. Vise, “AOL to Buy Blog Site in Bid to Expand Reach,” the Washington Post, October 7, 2005

63. David A. Vise, “Yahoo to Add 5 Gawker Media Blogs to Web Site,” the Washington Post, November 16, 2005.

64. Edward Wasserman, “Selling the blogosphere,” the Miami Herald, October 17, 2005.

65. Mark Fitzgerald, “Shield Law Sponsor: Bloggers ‘Probably Not’ Considered Journos,” Editor and Publisher, October 10, 2005.

66. John Doe No. 1 v. Patrick Cahill and Julia Cahill (Supreme Court of the State of Delaware). Available online at: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/delawarestatecases/266-2005.pdf.

67. Interview conducted on NPR’s “On The Media,” October 28, 2005.

Another case worth watching in 2006 is taking place in Maryland. It examines whether the online publisher of a financial newsletter should be forced to disclose his subscriber list, sought in this case by the drug company Matrixx, which is arguing that comments on the site are defamatory (Alex Dominguez, “New Shield Law Test as Court Hears Internet Anonymity Case,” Associated Press, November 2, 2005).

68. Mike Shields, “Online Video Comes of Age,” MediaWeek, September 19, 2005.

69. In South Korea, a citizen-journalism site that has generated considerable attention is OhmyNews.com, launched in 2000. A majority of the site’s content is produced by the 38,000 citizen reporters who contribute stories. The site’s editors “vet” the articles and reject around a third of all submissions. In 2004, an English-language edition was launched. Source: “The People’s News Source,” Time, May 29, 2005.