News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Pew Internet And American Life Project

March 31, 2010

Internet will probably conquer bureaucracy eventually, says new Pew report

Frustrated by slow, convoluted bureaucracies? Just watch the net and wait. And wait. New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates that the internet will make businesses and government agencies much more responsive and efficient—by 2020. That’s what 72% of nearly 900 “technology stakeholders and critics” surveyed by Pew believe…

Why will these improvements take so long, or maybe even longer? Powerful bureaucratic forces will push back against such transformation. Expect continuing tension in disruptive times.

In contrast, about one-fourth of respondents believe “By 2020, governments, businesses, non‐profits and other mainstream institutions will primarily retain familiar 20th century models for conduct of relationships with citizens and consumers online and offline.”

Read the survey results, including remarks from many respondents who chose to elaborate upon their answers.

April 20, 2010

Pew Report: Teens and Mobile Phones

To build tomorrow’s news audience, news providers must engage today’s youth. It’s obvious that cell phones are the media tool of choice for most teens—and they’re especially fond of text messaging.

New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates just how rampant teen texting has grown. Beyond texting, cell phones also have become an important tool to help low-income teens bridge the digital divide. In fact, much of how teens use cell phones is dictated by economics…

According to the Teens and Mobile Phones report, 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones (up from 45% in 2004). 72% of all teens (88% of teen cell users) use text-messaging. Contrast this to 2006, when just 51% of teens were texters in 2006. Also, more than half of teens (54%) send or receive text messages daily.

Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day. However, 22% of teens text just 1-10 times daily. Boys typically send/receive 30 texts per day; girls, 80.

The wealthier a teen’s family is (especially above $50,000 annual income), the more likely their phone will be on a family plan. Three-quarters of teen cell users have unlimited texting plans, and these teens typically send and receive 70 texts daily.

Teens from lower-income families are more likely to have prepaid plans or their own cell contract—often with limits on text messages and voice minutes. Teens on limted texting plans typically send/receive 10 texts a day, and teens who pay per message typically send/receive 5 texts per day.

Cell phones help bridge the digital divide by providing internet access to lower-income teens. From families earning $30,000 or less per year, 41% of teens report that they use their phone to go online. Nearly a third of these teens have no computer at home. 44% of black teens and 35% of Hispanic teens go online via cell phones to go online, versus only 21% of white teens.

Teens who pay the full cost of their cell phones on their own tend to be older and poorer—but they also tend to do more with their phones. In particular, they’re more likely to use their phone to go online (39%) than teens whose phones are covered by a family plan (26%). According to the report, this “suggests that as they grow more independent, teens use their resources to expand their use of the cell phone.”

However, some teens, say it’s too expensive to go online from their cell phone. Others report dissatisfaction with the mobile web interface, lor frustration with slow-loading pages.

More than half of text-using teens have gotten spam or other unwanted texts—but mostly these are not commercial advertisements, but harassment or pranks from other individuals. Teens detest unwanted texts so severely that they sometimes react by turning off their phones for hours at a time. According to the report, “This is noteworthy, considering turning the phone off is otherwise unthinkable for many teens”—a point worth considering for any opt-in SMS service aimed at teens that includes paid advertisements.

April 27, 2010

Government Online: New Pew report

Increasingly, civic engagement means helping people interact effectively with government online. In the last year, 82% of US internet users (61% of all American adults) looked for information or completed a transaction on a government site.

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, Government Online, examines how Americans use digital media to connect with government—what’s working, and what isn’t. This report could help news organizations and other community-building ventures spot opportunities to add value to (or fill gaps in) online civic engagement. Beyond web sites, it also discusses social media, mobile media, and e-mail.

...And, in case you missed it, KDMC’s recent civic engagement series suggested many specific ways that news orgs can help communities function better within a democracy.

June 01, 2010

Online reputation management: New Pew report

If you’ve been following or covering the recent Facebook privacy settings flap, you may wonder “How much do people really care about online privacy? What do they want to protect?”

Aside from not wanting your boss to learn via Twitter that you’re chilling out at the beach despite calling out sick, or not wanting to advertise your recent diabetes diagnosis while shopping for new health insurance, reputation management is perhaps the main reason why many people care about online privacy.

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project offers data on reputation management and social media…

Read the report summary, or download the full report, to learn how Americans are managing their online reputations—and the tradeoffs inherent in their decisions about what to make public or keep private.

June 04, 2010

Online videos: Comedy now more popular than news, says Pew

Just over half of all US adults have used the internet to watch or download video. But their online video habits are evolving fast. In 2007, news videos were the most popular type of online video viewed by US adults. But by 2009, comedy videos claimed that lead.

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, The State of Online Video, says that in 2009, 43% of US internet users over age 18 reported watching comedy videos online (up from 37% in 2007)—but in that same span online viewership of comedy videos jumped from 31% to 50% of adult net users…

The biggest news/comedy gap in 2009 was among 18-29 year old net users: 93% reported watching comedy videos, 56% reported watching news videos. For 30-49 year old net users, comedy’s lead was negligible: 74% vs. 72% for news videos. News still holds the online video lead with the over-50 online crowd: 59%, vs. 52% for comedy videos.

The report did not mention whether Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” was counted as news or comedy.

It may be tempting to use these findings to dismiss the preferences of younger internet users—but it’s important to note that news is still one of the most popular types of online videos among the 18-29 crowd. Clearly, younger internet users have a growing demand for online video, and news is an important part of what they want. If you want to keep up with where your online audience wants to go, more and better video is probably a good bet.

June 14, 2010

Neighbors Online: Pew report on digital media’s role in local community

The internet’s reputation for fostering alienation and weakening community ties may be an undeserved bad rap. According to a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, one in five Americans use digital tools to communicate with neighbors and monitor community developments.

News organizations, community organizers, journalists, bloggers, and others should read Neighbors Online for current context and ideas on using the web to build local community.

Here are some highlights…

  • Local alerts. 22% of all US adults (28% of internet users) have opted to receive text or e-mail alerts about traffic, school events, weather warnings, crime, and other key local issues. Except for crime alerts, rural dwellers are just as likely as urban dwellers to sign up for local alerts.
  • Local blogs. While individual hyperlocal blogs often attract a small readership, taken as a genre they are surprisingly popular. 14% of internet users (11% of US adults) reported read a blog dealing with community issues in the past year.
  • Neighborhood e-mail lists. About 7% of US adults subscribe to an ongoing neighborhood e-mail list.
  • Face-to-face still most important. Nearly half of those surveyed reported talking face-to-face with neighbors about community issues in the last year. Telephone is another key channel for neighbors communicating.

July 02, 2010

Pew research: Internet is mostly good for society, community

The Internet has been getting a bad rap for allegedly destroying the fabric of society and community—but new research from Pew and Elon University suggest that the social benefits of internet use will far outweigh the negatives over the next decade…

For The Future of Social Relations report, researchers from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center surveyed nearly 900 internet experts and other internet users. (Disclosure: I was one of the experts surveyed, and I am quoted in the report.)

The results were most, but not completely, positive about the impacts of the internet on social and community life. In all, 85% or respondents agreed with this statement: “In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.”

This research indicates the importance of recognizing how people’s sense of society, community, and connection has been changing because of the internet. This could be especially important for geographically-focused news organizations (like local papers, TV, or radio) to recognize and reflect in their coverage. Understanding what members of your community have in common besides geography—and following the patterns of how and where they’re connecting online, and with whom—could help you provide news that continues to be uniquely relevant and compelling.

July 07, 2010

Mobile internet access is now mainstream, Pew research shows

Here’s further proof why news organizations need a robust mobile strategy now: According to research published today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (Mobile Access 2010) in the past year 40% of US cell phone users accessed the internet from their phones—and more than half of them do so daily. This is a sharp jump: last year, only 25% of cell users reported mobile internet access.

Speaking of strategic considerations, where will your future audience be? A strong majority (65%) of cell users aged 18-29 reported using their phones for internet access. Not far behind, 40% of cell users aged 30-49 also are going online from their phones…

African Americans and Latinos continue to lead the charge on US mobile internet use, says Pew: “Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87% vs. 80%) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of their phones’ features… In total, 64% of African-Americans access the internet from a laptop or mobile phone, up from the 57% who did so at a similar point in 2009.”

Another point with clear implications for how cell phones can bridge the mobile digital divide: This year, 46% of cell users earning $30,000 or less per year reported accessing the internet from their phones—up from 35% last year. Also, 20% of cell users report that their phone is their sole internet access tool. People with lower incomes tend not to buy fancy smartphones with costly data plans; they tend to use inexpensive feature phones with simple web browsers and limited/no ability to run apps. This is why lean mobile strategies (such as WAP sites, which I discussed yesterday) should be an important part of any news organization’s online strategy.

Besides the mobile web, other internet-based functions are also becoming commonplace among cell phone users: 34% reported using e-mail from their phones this year (up from 25% last year), and 30% reported using mobile instant messaging (from 20% last year). These features, plus podcasting or streaming audio/video, call-in audio, and text/multimedia messaging also can be important parts of a robust mobile news strategy.

August 27, 2010

Older Americans flocking to social media, says Pew

Today’s typical social media user may be grayer than you’d expect—perhaps as gray as a typical newspaper reader or public radio listener.

According to a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, in the past year social networking use among Americans age 50 and up nearly doubled—from 22% to 42%. Half of internet users age 50-64, and a quarter of users 65 and older, now regularly use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr…

“Although e-mail continues to be the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, many users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications—sharing links, photos, videos, news and status updates with a growing network of contacts,” says the report.

The report also notes that older internet users also tend to like online news: “76% of internet users ages 50-64 get news online, and 42% do so on a typical day. Among internet users ages 65 and older, 62% look for news online and 34% do so on a typical day.”

If older adults are a key part of your news organization’s core audience (which is true for most news orgs), consider ways to use social media to deepen and extend your connections with this demographic. In addition to reaching out online to older parts of your community via social networking sites, also consider integrating social media more thoroughly on your web site—and promote and explain your social media efforts more often in print or on the air.

If your news org has been lagging on social media so far, this research could provide even more impetus to get more active in social media. Also, if you’ve assumed social media appeals almost exclusively to younger audiences—think again.

October 19, 2010

Americans and their Gadgets: Pew report on US digital media device trends

These days, cell phones are as prevalent among US seniors as game consoles are among 18-29 year olds. That’s one of several insights in a new Pew Internet and American Life Project, American and Their Gadgets, which offers an overview of current trends in the digital media devices that Americans own.

Here are some more insights that should interest anyone who’s publishing any kind of digital media…

  • Ubiquitous cell phones. “85% of all US adults (and three-quarters of teens) now own a mobile phone.”
  • Computers: Desktops still have a slight edge. “Six in ten of Americans own a desktop computer, and half own a laptop.” Also: “Rural residents are just as likely as non-rural residents to own a desktop computer (56% of rural residents and 61% of non-rural residents do so) but are significantly less likely than non-rural dwellers to own a laptop computer (39% vs. 55%)”
  • Mobilized seniors. “Seniors are roughly 50% more likely to own a cell phone than to use the internet (40% of seniors are internet users).”
  • Other devices. “Just under half of all adults own an mp3 player (47%) or console gaming device (42%), while e-book readers and tablet computers are currently each owned by around one in 20 adults.”
  • Multiple gadgets. “78% of American adults own two or more of these devices, and the median adult owns three of the seven gadgets we asked about in our survey. ...The typical adult under the age of 45 owns four devices, while the typical adult age 55-64 owns two.”


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