By and large Americans in 2016 do not often read carefully researched investigative stories in print newspapers to find out what is going on: That's only about 1 in 5 (20%) of us, says the Pew Research Institute. The rest put on the TV (57%) or go online (38%), to websites and/or social media. About a quarter (25%) mainly hear about stuff from the radio.
When you break down the numbers by age, an even clearer picture emerges: Young people, more than any other age group, often head to the Internet first (50%), while those age 65 and over by default switch on the TV (85%).
Television and online news sites are both controlled by content producers - although anyone with an Internet connection can stand up the latter. But what about social media as a source of news? Turns out that 18% of adults often tune in to the latter in order to find out what is going on - 62% say they do so generally.
Finally, when people turn to a screen to get their news, they are increasingly likely to do so on a mobile device rather than a desktop computer. Since 2013, the percentage of adults who "often" use a handheld jumped from 21% to 36%.
What does all of this mean to you? If you want to influence what people are thinking, you should find ways to leverage traditional news sources by quoting and/or analyzing them on social media sites. Commentary should be short and sweet, visuals compelling, and the headline is your most important communication tool of all.
All opinions my own. Photo by Laura Bittner via Flickr (Creative Commons)