Americans’ perceptions of the current news environment
Most Americans believe it is easier to keep up with the news today than it was five years ago
For a majority of Americans, the digital age is making following the news easier. Fully 60 percent feel that it is much or somewhat easier to keep up with the news than it was five years ago. Another 27 percent of Americans say there is no real difference, and 12 percent feel it is harder.
Most Americans do not pay for their news, and those who do tend to purchase print media
Only 26 percent of Americans report that they currently pay for one or more news subscriptions. Americans who do pay for news have, on average, two different subscriptions, and they are most likely to pay for print newspapers and magazines. Among these paying subscribers, 64 percent say they subscribe to a newspaper, 44 percent to a print magazine, 40 percent to online access to a newspaper, 23 percent to a magazine website, 16 percent for a tablet app for news, and 15 percent report having a paid phone app.
There is a correlation between enjoying the news, along with frequency of consuming it, and also paying for it. People who say they enjoy following the news “a lot” are twice as likely to pay for a subscription as those who don’t (33 percent vs. 16 percent). And people who read, watch, or hear the news at least once a day are also about twice as likely to pay for a news subscription as those who get the news on a weekly basis (29 percent vs. 16 percent).
Some key demographic factors are also related to the likelihood of paying for news subscriptions, including age, race/ethnicity, and education. Fully 40 percent of Americans age 60 or older report having a paid news subscription compared with 20 percent of those under 60. Among whites, 31 percent report having at least one paid subscription compared to 16 percent of African Americans and 11 percent of Hispanics. Finally, while 36 percent of Americans with at least a college education report having a paid news subscription, 21 percent of high school graduates and 12 percent of those with less than a high school education report having a paid subscription.