U.S. Newspapers Take a Backseat to the Internet

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A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau documents the projected amount of time that the average American will devote to the different media platforms in the upcoming year. According to the findings, the Internet has moved ahead of newspapers in the grand scheme of modern media consumption.

Most have seen this paradigm shift coming for quite some time now. The pervasive influence of broadband technology, as well as other social elements, has fostered an environment of insatiable, real-time media demand that leads to a greater usage and dependency on the Internet.

According to the Bureau report, the amount of hours projected for next year in different categories is as follows:

•   1,555 hours watching television, up from 1,467 in 2000. The estimate includes 678 hours watching broadcast TV and 877 watching cable and satellite.

•   974 hours listening to the radio, up from 942 in 2000.

•   195 hours using the Internet, up from 104.

•   175 hours reading daily newspapers, down from 201.

•   122 hours reading magazines, down from 135.

•   106 hours reading books, down an hour.

•   86 hours playing video games, up from 64.

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer, Patricia Yollin, comments:

“One of the main findings predicts that Americans will be more electronically inclined — or enslaved — than ever in 2007.

They’ll be parked in front of their TVs for 65 days and on the Internet for more than a week, according to projections from a communications industry forecast.”

Enslaved? This might be a bit of a stretch, but there is no denying that Americans are consuming electronic media at an ever-increasing rate. But what do the numbers mean? Are we just mindless automatons at the mercy of the technology around us, or are Matrix-like comparison of human enslavement by machines greatly exaggerated?

Bill Glauber of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sheds some light on these figures:

“One of the things to realize about that number is that it is not 10 consecutive hours a day; there are several of these hours spent in tandem,” he said. “If you drive to work, you drive listening to a radio and drive by a billboard and you consume two media.

“You might be sitting at home, listening to music, watching television, flipping through a magazine, and you might even surf the Internet with music or TV on in the background.”

While America may be labeled as a media culture, it might be more accurate to describe the population as a multimedia culture, as people tend to engage in more than one method of consumption at any given moment.

The figures cannot be ignored, however, when it comes to determining the relevance of particular media channels in the public consciousness. Newspaper sales and readership are dwindling, and the Internet is becoming a primary source of news and entertainment for many an American consumer.

What does this mean for traditional media? Aspiring journalist Andrea Frainier sees it this way:

“As a journalism major this tells me two things. 1), in the interest of my future career I should keep on blogging and 2) I should probably sign up for JOUR 163 next semester.”

So while newspapers aren’t going to go out of publication anytime soon, it’s clear that they are, in the very least, becoming pass in terms of relevance.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

U.S. Newspapers Take a Backseat to the Internet
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