Pew: news info and mobile devices

Faith Merino · March 14, 2011 · Short URL:

Take note, collapsing print industry: more mobile users are also willing to pay for online news

A friend fo mine recently told me that she checks the weather report on her iPhone before she even gets out of bed in the morning. At first I thought that it was just her being lazy--and then I realized--no, that actually makes a lot of sense. It's like finding out how cold your floor is going to be before you touch it. That's brilliant. 

My friend is among legions of people who do this--maybe not exactly checking the weather right before they roll out of bed, but rather using their mobile phones and/or tablets to get local news and information (like the weather), according to a study released Monday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, the Pew  Internet & American Life Project, and the Knight Foundation. 

The report specifically finds that of the American adults who own a cell phone and/or tablet, 56% use their device to access local news and information, which translates to 47% of all adults. And like my friend, most are using their devices to check local weather reports: 42%, to be exact. Checking information on local restaurants or businesses comes in second with 37% of mobile users, while 30% are getting general local news. Interestingly, only 19% of mobile device owners use their phone or tablet to access local coupons and discounts, which means a lot of Groupon and LivingSocial subscribers still print their coupons off and actually present them to the merchant.

Not surprisingly, the study finds that those in the 18-29 demographic use their devices to get local information more than any other age group (70%), and that users who live in more affluent households with annual incomes of $75K or more are more likely to access local news on the go (67%). They're also more likely to be relatively new to their local community (58%), suburban (50%), and parents of minor children (64%). And education plays a big role as well: those with a college degree or higher are more likely to access local information on their mobile devices (58%) than those with fewer years of education. 

So the portrait that this paints is one of a young, relatively well-off suburban family that has just moved to a new neighborhood to put down roots. 

A select few mobile device owners have actually downloaded apps that give them access to local news info (13%), but the study notes that the average person accessing local information from an app typically isn't doing so because he/she has a particular interest in local events. Rather, people who access local news from apps fit the early adopter profile and tend to use technology more often. 

The survey also polled respondents on whether they would be willing to pay for news online and found that 23% of all adults said they would be willing to be $5 a month for online news, but this was significantly higher for those who access local news from mobile devices. For those who already access local news from their device, 30% said they would be willing to pay for news online, compared to 17% of those who don't access local news from a cell phone or tablet. Among those who use local news apps, fully 38% said they would be willing to pay for online news. Take a note, big print media companies.

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