Americans’ relationship with news is changing in dramatic and irreversible ways due to changes in the “ecology” of how news is available. Traditional news organizations are still very important to their consumers, but technology has scrambled every aspect of the relationship between news producers and the people who consume news. That change starts with the fact that those consumers now have the tools to be active participants in news creation, dissemination, and even the “editing” process.
This report is aimed at describing the extent of the transformation and the ways in which news serves a variety of practical and civic needs in people’s lives. It focuses on those who receive and react to news and asks questions that are rarely asked about how people use the news in their lives, especially by exploiting the internet and cell phones. The report draws from a national phone survey of adults (those 18 and older) that documents how people’s use of new technologies has disrupted the traditional flow of news to consumers and in communities.
The overarching narrative here is tied to technological change, generational differences, and the rise of a new kind of hybrid news consumer/participator. These shifts affect how people treat the news, relate to news organizations, and think of themselves as news makers and commentators in their own right.