Gather and Share: The New News Consumption

By Steve Smith
05/28/2010

The digital environment radically changes the way people consume and propagate news, according to a new survey by Gather.com. Of 1450 people surveyed, 49% now consider the Web their primary source of news. But each demographic demonstrates different news sharing habits. Among people aged 45 and older, 68% share news stories they see via email, while 54% of those under 45 use Facebook. Among those 24 and younger, however 90% use either Facebook or Twitter as the way they trade interesting news items with others.

Commenting on news stories has become an engrained habit. Eighty-two percent of adults have interacted with a news story on a site, and about the same number (83%) say they are comfortable commenting publicly on news sites.

Much of online news-gathering, however, is interest-based, in that 65% of respondents say they primarily read news stories that involve topics of interest to them. And more than a third of users go to search engines in order to find multiple perspectives on a story.

The results generally confirm publisher fears that online information gatherers have limited brand loyalty. According to Gather’s survey, 80% say they click on news stories from sources they don’t recognize. The search-driven information economy has effectively leveled the brand playing field and challenged the brand equity many publishers spent decades building.