More people gathering news online, Tommies included

Twenty-six percent of American adults get news from their cell phones, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

The statistic is part of a larger trend. More people are checking the news on their laptops or phones with Internet access, and the numbers of people watching traditional television broadcasts or reading print newspapers are dropping, according to the study.

About 60 percent of study respondents said they checked both online and offline sources to get their daily news, and 46 percent of respondents said they use four to six different types of media on a typical day.

St. Thomas sophomore Molly Browne checks her iPhone for news updates regularly between classes.

“It’s easy. You can always look at it on the bus, have it right at your hands,” Browne said. “You don’t have to have a newspaper, even though those are nicer to read. You can look at your phone when you’re just sitting around or hanging out.”

Eighty-eight percent of study participants said they use applications that allow them to receive news alerts as well as access weather updates, sports scores, and traffic and financial information on their cell phones.

Junior Jim Schroeder uses his smartphone to stay informed about current events.

“I probably check it every hour,” he said. “I think I’m more or less up-to-date on what’s going on in the world.”

Freshman Tien-Si Nguyen, who uses his smartphone before class begins, believes there are pros and cons to accessing news on a cell phone.

“It’s convenient because you don’t have to go to computers, but there’s also a negative,” he said. “Smartphones can be hard to use, not easy to use like a computer.”

Overall, 65 percent of participants said it is significantly easier to keep up with news today than it was just five years ago.

Individuals who participated in the Pew Research Center study also said accessing news on cell phones and other wireless devices have made them more news savvy. About 78 percent said they recognize a bias in current news stories. However, 34 percent only follow news stories and topics that interest them specifically.

Mobile news consumers especially appreciate features such as interactive content, links to related articles, and being able to comment on stories.

The participants of the study were reported as being 67 percent more likely than other cell phone users to text message, more than twice as likely to take pictures with their phones, and four times as likely to use their phones to instant message. On a given day, 80 percent of study participants are online. They engage in activities such as blogging and using social networking sites at significantly higher rates than other internet users.

The trend of using wireless technology to stay up-to-date is creating a growing interest in news. According to the study, 80 percent feel they have a social or civic obligation to stay informed and 42 percent enjoy reading about topics they had never considered before. These individuals are also 83 percent more likely to discuss current events with family and friends. While the format of the news may be changing, news awareness is growing stronger than ever.

Katie Broadwell contributed to this report.

Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at