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How People Find and Follow Up on Digital News

March 3, 2017


Social media and direct visits to news-organization websites are the most common ways Americans get news online, says a new study from Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Online news consumers surveyed were about equally likely to find news by going directly to a news website (36 percent of the times they got news, on average) as through social media (35 percent). They were less likely to access news through emails, text messages or search engines.
On the other hand, news received through emails and texts from friends or family spurred the most activity, with 73 percent leading to actions such as sharing, searching for more information or discussing the news with others. (The last one is the most common action taken after encountering digital news.) By comparison, 53 percent of stories found via social media and 47 percent of news seen through direct visits to news-organization websites inspired follow-up actions. Community and health news drove follow-up action more often than entertainment, sports and business news.
Amid concerns over fake news, the study reveals that when consumers click a link to see news, they can recall the source 56 percent of the time, on average. But they’re also more able to remember where a story originated when the link comes directly from a news organization — via an email or text alert, for example — than on social media or from a friend.  — Greg Beaubien


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