Tue, Mar 20, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Smart devices drawing attention to news, poll finds


Mobile technology appears to be increasing the public’s appetite for news, but it is far from clear whether the news industry will profit, a new study issued yesterday says.

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 on news sites than they do on phones or desktop computers, said Tom Rosenstiel, Project for Excellence in Journalism director.

Many people already make it a habit to check their tablets before going to bed to see what is going to be in a newspaper the next day, he said.

Unique visits to online news sites jumped 17 percent from 2010 to last year, similar to the increase from the year before, the report said.

“The demand for conventional journalism endures and in some ways is even growing,” Rosenstiel said. “There were many people that didn’t predict that. The content is still coming from traditional news companies.”

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 last year.

Rosenstiel said there is a trend of technology companies working with news organizations on new ventures announced within the past year: Yahoo reaching a deal to stream ABC News reports; YouTube launching original programming channels, including one operated by the news service Thomson Reuters; and the Washington Post developing a news aggregator, Trove.com, available through Facebook.

The Associated Press has begun providing some of its election coverage to the popular tablet app Flipboard, entered into a partnership with WhoSay.com over use of celebrity photos and worked with Twitter on the release of the Nevada Republican caucus results.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism report noted how social media is increasingly driving news, through people who pass recommendations to read articles to their friends through Facebook and Twitter. Still, only 9 percent of adults say they follow such recommendations regularly, compared with 36 percent who say they go directly to a news organization’s app.

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