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News in the U.S. - statistics & facts

News consumption now most commonly occurs online or via television. Although Gannett, owner of daily middle-market newspaper USA Today, remains the leading newspaper company in the United States ranked by circulation, the function of newspapers has changed and consumers now prefer social media and network news for keeping up to date. Data from a 2021 survey found that close to 48 percent of U.S. adults used social media for news often or semi-regularly. By contrast, an investigation into the frequency of newspaper use revealed that most adults never read newspapers at all.

The plight of newspapers

For years, digital news has impacted the print sector, and a growing reliance on online news outlets is accelerating digital growth whilst print continues to suffer. Newspaper publisher revenue figures dating back to 2010 show almost consistent annual losses in ad revenue, with the number having halved over a nine-year period. Meanwhile, newspapers struggled to grow their subscription and sales revenue, and only a handful of major publications have successfully managed to increase their number of paying digital subscribers.

Although used less often, a 2021 study found that newspapers remain among the most trusted news sources in the United States. Social media on the other hand was deemed to be untrustworthy by over 55 percent of respondents, and consumers were also less inclined to trust online-only news websites and podcasts than offline news sources such as radio and network news.

The issue of trust

As the preferred mediums through which people consume their news are changing, so is the amount of trust that citizens have in the news they receive. In fact, close to 40 percent of U.S. adults admitted that they trust online news less than they did a year ago, but doubts about bias and trustworthiness are not specific to online news sources. According to a global study, only 29 percent of Americans stated that they trust the news media as a whole, the lowest percentages among all participating countries.

Trust in news is a complex topic, with consumers’ political stance, a news brand’s reputation, and myriad other factors affecting how audiences perceive the news they read and whether they consider the source to be reliable. Meanwhile, fake news continues to exacerbate the problem. Investing in quality journalism from reputable sources could encourage more trust in news, but U.S. audiences are among the least likely to pay for print or digital news subscriptions. This will not make the situation any easier for newspapers hoping to pull in more subscribers, but online outlets and social networks may see small decreases in news consumption via their platforms as more consumers question the accuracy of the news they find there.


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