More not-so-good news for the newspaper industry

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Zogby Interactive regularly fills my e-mail inbox with the latest information gleaned from polls that it has conducted.

Most of the e-mails receive a cursory glance before being deleted, but one that was released earlier this week caught my attention. The poll’s results show that the Internet blows away all other information sources when people are asked to select a preference.

A majority of adults nationwide — 56 percent — said that if they had to choose just one source for their news information, they would choose the Internet. In a distant second place was television at 21 percent.

Newspapers and radio were tied at 10 percent, just seven percentage points above “not sure.” (Guess now might be the moment to accept the fact that it’s time to trade in the Atari console and Commodore Vic-64 — hey, at least I don’t still have a 20 lying around, that really would be the Dark Ages).

Another thing that surprised me was the breakdown of respondents by political party. Given the current president’s affection for BlackBerrys, and his overwhelming use of the Internet during both the primary and general election, I would have thought that Democrats would be the standard-bearers for Web-based information.

I was wrong. (This of course is not an admission of guilt related to any pending legal matters involving ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, jealous boyfriends/husbands, etc.)

Democrats, according to Zogby, were more likely to favor traditional sources of news than were Republicans.

Among Republicans, 56 percent would prefer the Internet as their lone information source, while 50 percent of Democrats agreed. But when it came to newspapers, the difference was notable — 17 percent of Democrats would prefer newspapers as their only news source, while just 5 percent of Republicans agreed.

Of course, this might be because most daily newspapers tend to fall on the liberal side of fair and balanced. But let’s not get caught up in ideology — especially when we haven’t even touched on which information source respondents thought was the most reliable.

The Internet won again.

The survey showed that 38 percent of respondents believe that news from the Internet is most reliable, followed by television, which is thought to be the most reliable by 17 percent of adults nationwide. Newspapers came in a close third at 16 percent.

At least print beat radio, which was last at 13 percent. (In the interest of fairness, though, I probably should mention that other/not sure tied for second at 17 percent.)

But hey, there’s always a silver lining — right? Sure there is.

According to Zogby, the poll reinforces the idea that the efforts by established newspapers, television and radio news outlets to push their consumers to their respective Web sites is working.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said national newspaper Web sites were very important to them and 43 percent said national television Web sites were important to them as a key source of news.

Forty-one percent also said the Web sites of their local newspapers were important sources of information, while 34 percent said that a local television news station Web site was an important source of information.

By contrast, the political blogosphere was seen as much less important.

Just 28 percent of respondents said blogs that shared their political point of view were important, and 14 percent said they felt blogs from the opposite position on the political spectrum were important.

That the Web sites of traditional news outlets are seen by a wide margin as more important than blog sites — most of which are repositories of opinion devoid of actual reportage — could be seen as an encouraging development for the media at large.

And though social networking sites have had the media all atwitter with excitement, the poll shows that just 10 percent of respondents consider such sites as Facebook as important for news information, and just 4 percent think Twitter is important as a source for information. (Yes — there is a God. Now if I could just convince the corporate suits that it really doesn’t matter how many Facebook friends I have.)

Although, considering this last bit of information, I might not want to cause too much trouble with the higher ups.

Seems that only one-half of one percent — that’s 0.5 percent for you non-word folks — said they thought newspapers would be the most dominant source of news in five years. Definitely time to upgrade the modem on my Commodore.

Mike Boyd is editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Mike.Boyd@csbj.com or 329-5206.