Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Social networking: is it changing the way we consume news?

Following on from my piece outlining ideas for an innovative left-wing website, I was intrigued to see these research findings about online news - and the role social networking now plays in how people get their news. It is based on an American survey, but nonetheless surely offers insight into the UK too. For socialists I think these results are worth reflecting on in the context of my recent post. The article reports:

'The Pew Internet study found that more than 90% of Americans were getting their news from multiple sources and almost 60% were getting at least some online.

Three quarters of those accessing news online said they were consuming it socially and it is being forwarded to them via email or posts on social networking sites. As many as 52% were reciprocating and sharing news of their own.

According to Pew the increased online and social nature of news means that few are loyal to one or even two news providers.

Seven out of 10 people accessing online news were doing so from more than two websites and 65% said they had no favourite news source. Among those who do, however, the most popular sites were those of major news organizations such as CNN and Fox.

Pew said the advent of social networking sites and blogs has helped news become a social experience in fresh ways for consumers as they use social media to filter, assess, and react to news.

Many more consumers are now taking part in the news. 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or shared it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

The study said: "To a great extent, people's experience of news, especially on the internet, is becoming a shared social experience as people swap links in emails, post news stories on their social networking site feeds, highlight news stories in their tweets, and haggle over the meaning of events in discussion threads."

Twitter, and other status update services, are used by 19% of online Americans and virtually all of those people using Twitter access their news online.'

Brand Republic, who report these findings, list a number of specific results. These include:

* 51% of social networking site (e.g. Facebook) users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow. Another 23% of this group follow news organisations or individual journalists on social networking sites.
* 37% of internet users have done at least one of the following: commenting on a news story (25%); posting a link on a social networking site (17%); tagging content (11%), creating their own original news material or opinion piece (9%), or tweeting about news (3%).
* 28% of internet users have customised their home page to include news from their favourite source or topics.
* 23% of the social networking users who get news online say they specifically get news from news organisations and individual journalists they follow in the social networking space.

Please note: you are very welcome to validate these findings by re-tweeting this blog post, posting it as a link on Facebook, including it as a link in your own blog post, or emailing it to your friends ;)

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