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Rapid Mobile Internet Growth Changing News Outlet

March 14, 2011

A report released on Monday said that the rapid growth of smartphones and electronic tablets is making the Internet the destination of choice for consumers looking for news.

According to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a research organization that evaluates and studies the performance of the press, all local, network and cable television news, newspapers, radio and magazines lost audiences last year.

The project said in its eighth annual State of the News Media survey that news consumption online increased 17 percent last year from the year before.

The percentage of people who say that they get news online at least three times a week surpassed newspapers for the first time. 

Project director Tom Rosenstiel said that it was second only to local TV news as the most popular news platform and seems poised to pass that medium too. 

He said that local TV news has been the most popular format since the 1960s, when its growth was largely responsible for the death of afternoon newspapers.

“It was a milestone year,” he said in a statement.

He said that people are just becoming accustomed to having the Internet available in their pockets on phones or small tablets.  According to the report, 41 percent of Americans said in December that they got most of their news about national and international issues on the Internet, which is more than double the 17 percent who said that a year before.

Seven percent of Americans said in January that they owned electronic tablets, which is double what it was three months earlier.

Rosenstiel said it is the fastest-growing new digital technology, ahead of cell phones when they were introduced.           

News companies have not harnessed the growth in Internet news consumption.  The project did not have numbers available, but said online ad revenue was expected to surpass print newspaper ad revenue for the first time in 2010.

“The news business used to be the intermediary,” Rosenstiel said. “You needed newspapers and TV stations to reach your customers. In this age, it’s the device makers and software developers.”

The report said that newspaper circulation continued to decline last year, but the rate is slowing.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that 40 percent of Americans read newspapers at least three times a week, which was down from 52 percent in 2006.

The project’s report said that newsroom stares are 30 percent smaller than they were in 2000.

According to the report, 28 percent of Americans said the loss of their local newspaper would have a major impact on their ability to keep up with local information.

The report said that the addition of newscasts at 4:30 a.m. and at 7 p.m. at some stations is generally proving to be popular.

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