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Double Take: Where We Get Our News

Most of us keep up with the news. But how we stay informed varies. You’d think older people prefer print while younger ones go online, but according to a recent study, we rely on a mix of sources and technologies to keep up with ISIS, Ebola and Kimye.

Forget about age and political lines. Most of us choose our news sources according to the topic and imminence of the story. And even with the seemingly overwhelming variety of sources and subjects, we’re likely to follow multiple stories at once.

TV is still the leading news source, used by nearly 90% of Americans. Laptops/computers and radio run a close second and third place, followed by newspapers and magazines, cell phones and tablets. According to the study, we like to mix it up—the average American adult uses four different devices or technologies for the news.

Here are some other newsworthy facts:

  • Three-quarters of Americans get their news at least daily, including six out of ten adults under age 30
  • Nearly half of Americans with Internet access have signed up for news alerts
  • People with more devices tend to enjoy following the news more
  • Tech-savvy news consumers are no more or less likely than everyone else to use print publications, television or radio to access the news
  • Smartphone owners are two and half times as likely to get news through social media as those without smartphones, twice as likely to use search engines and aggregators for news, and more than twice as likely to share news
  • People are most likely to turn to newspapers for news about their local town or city, arts and culture, and schools and education

Here’s our double take on where and how we get our news.

SHARLA: Ever since 9/11, I’ve become a news junkie. Things happen so fast and I like to be the first to know. If I step out of the news cycle for a few hours, I feel disconnected. Plus, I’m fascinated by the latest science or medical breakthroughs, and I admit, I have to know the shallow entertainment stuff, too. I probably check the news ten times a day or more. Yes, it’s an obsession.

JOE: I’m also a bit of a freak when it comes to any kind of news. I have a Twitter list for different categories of news, so I can choose what kind of reporting I want to read. I can choose one just for world news reporters, one for the Blackhawks beat writers, one for English soccer reporters and so on. Twitter isn’t my only source for today’s news but it’s definitely the most convenient source to catch quick headlines and also fantastic way to follow reporters who are constantly live reporting.

SHARLA: I listen to news on AM radio in the car, and Google News everywhere else. If it’s a crisis, I go to CNN. If I want deeper insights, I go to NPR or the local NPR radio affiliate. I take all week to digest the Sunday New York Times, and head right for the travel, entertainment, week in review sections and the magazine. I occasionally look at the Times’ app, too. There was a time when I subscribed to the local paper, mostly for the crime and obituaries, and the Chicago Tribune. Now I’ll go online if I’m interested. My 16-year old likes BuzzFeed because she likes the pictures, which was the same idea behind USA Today.

JOE: I used to like BuzzFeed and other sites like HuffPost, but those sites became so immersed with ads and purchased material it made reading and finding the stories almost a chore. But I honestly can’t tell you the last time I got the news from a print source. I also love news shows that are a little more editorial like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver or documentary type show like VICE News. I even follow news channels on YouTube so I can watch reports while I’m on the train.

SHARLA: I set up a few news alerts, mostly to keep up with client news. I used to use them to follow stories of personal interest, but I found that they bombarded my inbox. Now, if I want to know about something, I’ll just search for it. What about you? Are you a fan of news alerts?

JOE: I have the CNN app on my phone and whenever there is news worth knowing I will get a notification on my home screen. So, I will get pop-up alerts about an earthquake in Japan to the Los Angeles Kings winning the Stanley Cup. What’s great about being on my phone is when an event is happening, I can just type it into Twitter and I can find every reporter reporting live on location. It is pretty fantastic, you can get a lot of sides to the story almost instantly.

SHARLA: You seem almost as bad as my teenagers with being on the phone constantly! I never really use my phone to get my news, unless there’s a story I’m really following. I like to check the news on my computer at home and throughout the workday (during lunch of course).

We’ve got a hunch you probably just discovered some great new news sources, just like we did. Where do you get your news? Let us know.

Joe Johnson

Sharla Kahan

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