news consumption trendsThe future of news consumption could be summed up in six words: it’s all about mobile and social. According to The Pew Research Center’s Trends in News Consumption: 1991-2012 report, the news landscape is changing and even television is vulnerable.

Between 1991 and 2012, the number of people who got news “yesterday” from television dropped by nearly 20%. The decreases in print newspaper and radio news consumption were even bigger at 48% and 39%, respectively.

On the other hand, the number of people who accessed news online or using mobile devices “yesterday” increased by 63% since The Pew Research Center began tracking it about eight years ago.

The study identifies five key areas where news consumption is changing and will continue to shape the news market in the future:

1. Social

As traditional news platforms like newspapers, magazines, and radio continue to lose their audiences, online news consumption continues to grow and evolve. Nearly one in five (19%) Americans who participated in the study saw news or news headlines on social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ yesterday, which is more than double the number Pew Research identified two years ago. However, the growth rate is even higher among people who regularly get news or news headlines on social sites, which nearly tripled during the same time period (up from 7% to 20%).

2. Mobile

Nearly one in five people (17%) got news yesterday on a mobile device. 78% of those people got that news using a cell phone. However, only 31% of smartphone owners got news yesterday on a mobile device, so it’s not wise to make the leap to thinking smartphone ownership equates to mobile news consumption.15% claim that they regularly get news on a mobile device. Additionally, 45% of mobile Internet users report that they have downloaded a news app to their mobile devices at some time.

3. Age

Most Americans still get news from traditional news platforms except for those younger than 25 years of age who get substantially more news digitally. Furthermore, except for Americans over the age of 65, few people rely solely on traditional news platforms to get their news. Younger Americans are also more likely to access news using mobile devices, mobile apps, and social networking sites.

4. Gender

Men are more likely to access news via mobile devices than women (18% of men vs. 13% of women), but women are more likely to get news from social networks than men (22% of women vs. 17% of men).

5. Education and Income

Less educated Americans are far less likely to go online for news than college-educated Americans (specifically, two-times less likely). The same is true for mobile news consumption. Furthermore, better-educated and wealthier Americans are more likely to have downloaded news apps to use on their mobile devices (43% of people with family incomes over $100,000 annually vs. 19% of people with family incomes under $30,000 per year). Finally, the same is also true of online news consumption via social networks where only 12% of Americans with a high school degree or less access news on social networks compared to 27% of Americans with at least some college education.

Bottom-line, digital and mobile news is “in” with social networking playing an important role in spreading that news to wider audiences, but traditional news platforms aren’t dead yet. Television is the strongest traditional news platform, but it’s not free from vulnerabilities. No longer is television the sole source of news for most Americans. In fact, for younger audiences, it’s not even the preferred source for news anymore.

You can read the full report here.

Image: Jayanta Behera