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From the editor: Age defines news usage

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Articles - August 2011
Wednesday, July 20, 2011


This month's input survey asked Oregon business leaders about their news habits, and what we found out syncs with what the Pew Research Center has documented about news consumers nationally.

Pew puts news consumers into four categories: Integrators, Net Newsers, Traditionalists and the Disengaged. Of the 668 participants in our survey, 86% were over 45. Broken down by age and how many news sources they use on a daily basis, it appears that most of our respondents fall into the Integrators or Traditionalists group. Thankfully, no one seems to be in the Disengaged group.

The Integrators get their news from both traditional sources such as newspapers, magazine and radio, and the Internet; they are a more engaged, sophisticated segment than those who mostly rely on traditional news sources. Integrators share some characteristics with the Net Newsers, a smaller, younger, more Internet-savvy audience segment. Integrators are well educated, affluent and middle aged. TV is their main news source, but most also get news online during a typical day.

Net Newsers are also affluent and well educated, but relatively young (median age: 35); 58% are men, and they still rely on some traditional media outlets. Pew says they are as likely as Integrators and Traditionalists to read magazines.

Traditionalists are 46% of the public and they are older (median age is 52) and less affluent than the other groups. They rely heavily on TV news during the entire day. Most have a computer, but few get news online during the day. In all of our age groups, and this is true nationally, social networking sites have not become a major source of news.

Despite national viewership of the nightly network news falling by half since the early 1990s, TV as a news source is still a force for all age groups. But you don’t need to tell that to the stations in the Medford TV market. Writer Dan Cook’s cover story on why the Medford market has an unusual amount of broadcast activity is an illuminating story of history and happenstance. It’s a market that is grappling with seismic change, much like the rest of the entire media industry.

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