NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

Mobile and Social: How We’re Really Getting Our News

Mobile and Social: How We’re Really Getting Our News

How We're Really Getting Our News

Facebook, smartphones and tablets have been around for a long time — long enough to say with confidence that the fact we share news on them isn’t itself news. But what is news is that almost 44 percent of U.S. adults that get their news online are learning about the 2016 presidential election through social networking sites.

Pew’s latest fact sheet on the State of the Media 2016’s segment on “Digital News Audience” spotlights the findings of a survey released earlier this year about media consumption during the 2016 presidential campaign. Here, the breakdown of the 65 percent of respondents who said they consume their news about the election from digital sources is even more telling:

65 percent learned about the 2016 presidential election ”in the past week” through digital sources
-48 percent from news sites or apps
-44 percent from social networking sites
-23 percent from issue-based group websites, apps or emails
-20 percent from candidate or campaign group websites, apps or emails

Compare this to the mere 17 percent of people who turned to social media four years ago to learn about the 2012 presidential election, and the 36 percent back then who used internet sources in general for campaign news.

Regarding how people are getting their online news in general, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continue to be the most used social media platforms that help news outlets reach audiences beyond their homepages, reports Pew, though many media organizations are experimenting with Instagram and Snapchat, which may catch up in the future. Publishers are also experimenting with news applications using virtual reality technology (notable papers including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal), as well as with using “chatbots” to deliver personalized, interactive headlines via texts or mobile messaging services (like the Washington Post and Quartz are doing), though these types of media developments are still in their infancy.

Another surge that many news outlets experienced in the last year came from mobile traffic. More audiences are choosing to get their news over their mobile devices. In the span of one year, mobile climbed quite a bit, as you can see by comparing the 2014 stats:

50 of the nation’s top print circulation newspapers
2015: 44 newspapers had mobile exceed desktop traffic
2014: 28 newspapers had mobile exceed desktop traffic

40 digital publications born on the web (such as Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, TMZ.com)
2015: 38 sites had mobile exceed desktop traffic
2014: 32 sites had mobile exceed desktop traffic

As technology and broadband advances, so do the demands of consumers. We all want more from the storytelling vehicles, platforms and devices we choose. And we look forward to seeing how news outlets in particular will continue to find innovative ways to reach readers where they live on mobile and social, and how the news cycle will continue to evolve to fit our lifestyles and expectations.