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Internet Winning the Online News vs. Traditional Media War

by Jane Susskind, published

American distrust in the mainstream media hit an all-time high in 2012 as 60 percent of Americans have little to no faith in the media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. As distrust grows, Americans increasingly turn to multiple mediums to remain informed, which is clearly shown the State of the News Media 2013 Annual Report on American Journalism: Tweet it: Tweet

Online News vs. Traditional Media 2

For the tenth year in a row, Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media report outlined, in detail, the consumption of news in an attempt to identify trends in news media and journalism. Buried in the findings, some important questions about the nature of news are answered, shedding light into the future of media -- specifically online media.

One of the the main trends identified is the growth of digital media, as portrayed in the above graph. While the majority of Americans still get their news from traditional media sources, the steady growth of those receiving news from online mediums, especially citizens under the age of 30, reflects the growing significance of the Internet in 2013.

Young people are also leaving the two mainstream parties in larger numbers, leading the way for the circulation of independent thought and action. As approximately forty percent of Americans identify as independent, the need for unbiased, verifiable, and non-partisan news is at an all-time high.

This was made evident in the ways in which voters interacted in the 2012 elections. Those following the presidential election did not just watch the results on TV; twenty-seven percent also typed, read, and tweeted their reactions. Tweet stat: Tweet

"It is this, dual-screening during live news events, that has the most potential for news organizations, offering an opportunity to leverage viewers’ desires to communicate online and to engage more actively with the content they are seeing on the screen, especially if the event is occurring live," Pew reports. 

Fact checking, live-blogs, online commentary, tweet chats, and social sharing during live events emerged as routine occurrences, influencing how we interact with the media. No longer chained to the binary rhetoric of the major news stations on TV, independent-minded voters were provided with an opportunity to engage with nonpartisan sources online leading up to the 2012 election.

Google Politics identified this trend back in July. It released what was envisioned to be the "Four Screens to Victory" for the 2012 election, reporting that "access to political information no longer comes from one place – or one screen."

Online News vs. Traditional MediaSince 45 percent of adults now own a smartphone, one of those screens is likely to be mobile. Included in the report is a testimonial from then head of The Wall Street Journal’s Digital Network:

“Last month, 32 percent of my traffic came from mobile,” Raju Narisetti said in a February presentation at the Digital Media Strategies conference in London. “A year ago it was 20 percent and a year from now it will be 50 percent.” 

Consumers are increasingly reaching for their phones for news, requiring news agencies to respond by emphasizing mobile optimization in their 2013 strategies.

With the growth of digital media comes the growth of social media, another takeaway from the State of the News Media 2013.

Social media is playing a much bigger role in the spread of news events. Roughly fifteen percent of Americans read the news from friends and family who share articles on social networking sites. Separate the 18-25 age group and that number rises to nearly twenty-five percent.

So, what does all this mean for independent-minded voters?

The growth in online media provides an alternative to the partisan dialogue that dominates the airwaves. Its expansion represents growing distrust in the mainstream media and the two-party system.

It represents the power of social media in sharing with a broader audience. In the online news vs. traditional media war, the Internet is coming out on top. Share the news: Tweet

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