New poll: Media landscape shifting; Print in decline, Web growing,TV still on top

New poll: Media landscape shifting
Print in decline, Web growing, but TV still on top
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A newly released poll depicts a shifting media environment with traditional print media in decline, online media growing, and with television sitting atop the media heap as Florida’s most influential news source.

The poll underscored the crisis and challenge facing Florida’s struggling newspaper industry, whose readership is aging and shrinking.  Thirty-two percent of Florida seniors (those aged 65 or older) report that newspapers are their primary source of news, but only 10.7 of young Floridians (aged 18 to 34) say so. And while 79 percent of seniors say they read a newspaper daily, so do only 33 percent of young Floridians. Overall, 20 percent of respondents said newspapers were their primary source for news.

“As the shift from newsprint to the Web continues to grow, it will be critical for newspapers to effectively resolve how to best monetize their Web sites and generate the revenues that enable a strong, sustainable news-gathering operation,” said Ron Sachs, President and CEO of Ron Sachs Communications. “So far, newspapers have been able to use print advertising to subsidize their Web operations, but as newsprint subscribers continue to age and are not replaced, media organizations will have to embrace a new paradigm.”

In contrast to the travails of print, online news sources have a young and growing readership, as 28 percent of young Floridians reported that media Web sites are their primary source for news, compared to just 9 percent of seniors. Overall, 16 percent of respondents said Web sites were their primary source for news.

Television, however, remains the largest media source for Floridians in all age categories, with 56 percent of respondents overall rating it as their primary source for news. Fifty-four percent of seniors, 60 percent of those aged 50 to 64, 58 percent of those aged 35 to 49, and 52 percent of young Floridians rated television their primary news source.

“This poll illustrates that while online news sources are steadily replacing newsprint as the primary news source for a significant portion of our population, television is still king of media,” said Michelle Ubben, Chief Operating Officer and Partner at Ron Sachs Communications.  “Moreover, its reign appears likely to last several more decades as its dominance spans all age groups.”

Social media are also a growing sector of the media landscape. Thirty percent of respondents said they have a Facebook page, including 55 percent of young Floridians, 34 percent of those aged 35 to 49, 29 percent of those aged 50 to 64, and 11 percent of seniors. Of those with a Facebook page, 51 percent said they visited their page at least once per day.

The Facebook site appears to serve a business and professional function for many Floridians: While 56 percent of those with a Facebook page said they used it for primarily personal purposes, 44 percent said they often use their pages for business purposes, and 35 percent said they used the site primarily for networking.

“This blurring of the lines between personal and professional use of the Internet creates a challenge for employers in figuring out how to regulate this behavior during the workday,” Ubben said. “Employees on Facebook may be wasting time, or they may be cultivating business contacts – or maybe both. This ambiguity will take some getting used to for many employers.”

Other social media sites have much less presence in Florida. While 28 percent of Floridians said they have used the popular video site YouTube, only 4 percent said they have used the networking site LinkedIn, 3 percent said they have used the messaging site Twitter, and 2 percent have used the photo-sharing site Flickr.

The poll of 625 Florida adults was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research from Nov. 6 to 10. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.

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