Mobile technology appears to be increasing the public appetite for news but it's far from clear whether the news industry will profit from that, a study issued Monday concluded.
The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, in its annual state of the news media report, found encouraging signs within the 27 percent of Americans who say they get news on their smartphones or tablets. These consumers are likely to seek out traditional news sites or applications, strengthening their bond with old newspaper or television news organizations. People with tablets tend to read longer articles and spend more time with news sites than they do on phones or desktop computers, said Tom Rosenstiel, Project for Excellence in Journalism director.
Unique visits to online news sites jumped 17 percent from 2010 to 2011, similar to the increase from the year before, the report said. Yet technology companies, rather than news companies, are better set up to take advantage of online revenue opportunities. The report found that five companies — Microsoft, Google, Facebook, AOL and Yahoo! — generated 68 percent of digital ad revenue in 2011. The PEJ report noted how social media is increasingly driving news, through people who pass along recommendations to read articles to their friends through Facebook and Twitter. Still, only 9 percent of adults say they follow such recommendations regularly, compared to 36 percent who say they go directly to a news organization's app.
Most media sectors saw audience growth in 2011, with the exception of newspapers, the report said. The television network news audience grew for the first time in a decade and local stations also saw news growth in the late evening and early morning, the PEJ said.