Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nielsen contradicts Pew on online news use

More than 13 times as many U.S. Internet surfers list pornography and other miscellaneous uses than news, according to a new Nielsen report on social media summarized by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Further, Americans spend more than 22 percent of their web time on blogs and social networks.

Just 2.6 percent of the online audience noted "current events and global news."

This contradicts recent Pew research that shows that reading news online is becoming a regular American pastime. Internet news readership is increasing among consumers of all ages, Pew reports, and 75 percent of online Americans look for news on the web. Other figures suggest that up to 78 percent of Americans look for news online and 21 percent of social users are “News Junkies,” constantly looking for breaking information on the web.

Nielsen's report is being received with more than a little doubt.

"Skeptical readers may note that blogs could relate to news, and portals post news stories, so take that into account," writes Poynter's Steve Myers, who listed Nielsen's findings:

Activity % of Internet time spent on it
Other (including porn) 35.1%
Social networks & blogs 22.5
Online games 9.8
Email 7.6
Portals 4.5
Videos/movies 4.4
Search 4.0
Instant messaging 3.3
Software manufacturer 3.2
Classifieds/auctions 2.9
Current events & global news 2.6

Meanwhile, the New York Times this week noted the supposed drift away from mass-market news could be tied to a fragmentation of the Web.

David Carr writes, "Like newspapers, portals like AOL and Yahoo are confronting the cold fact that there is less general interest in general interest news. Readers have peeled off into verticals of information — TMZ for gossip, Politico for politics and Deadspin for sports, and so on."