Most Utahns are now getting their news from online content, a UtahPolicy.com/Y2 Analytics survey finds.
The newest Utah Political Trends poll asked about 2,400 registered voters where they learn about current events.
And their answers should worry any traditional news source that is not making great efforts to get its news product online, and attract online readers.
–56 percent of Utahns say they get their national news online.
–51 percent say they get their local news online.
The more traditional news sources then fall away after those top two sources.
And local print newspapers, long the best-believed and/or most trustworthy sources, falls way down to just 29 percent of Utahns.
The two statewide papers, the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, have about equal daily print circulation of around 30,000 copies, far below the heyday of printed newspapers. Printed papers, and their editorial pages, no longer enjoy the influence they once did. Most papers post all their content on-line, with on-line readership generally growing. Myriad sources of on-line news compete with traditional newspapers for readership.
“These distributions (results) indicate that Utahns are not all that different from the nation,” said Kelly Patterson of Y2 Analytics.
“People increasingly are turning to online sources for their news.”
UtahPolicy.com is an online-only political newsletter, with original reporting of local government/political news and linking to other national and local online news sources. So UtahPolicy.com would fall under the top two online source groups.
The Tribune and Deseret News also have online editions, and so would fall into those top two areas, as well. The Tribune for over a year now has charged for extended use of its online product; the Deseret News is free online.
“Congruent with the earlier findings about the Salt Lake Tribune (in Y2 polling), more individuals consume their news through online versions,” said Patterson. Fifty-seven percent of Utahns said they want the Tribune to continue publishing.
“It is not that individuals do not want or need local news. They gravitate to those outlets that are easily accessible and current,” he adds.
“The distributions also illustrate the complex new world of the media environment. A generation earlier, individuals would not have had such a wide array of choices. Today, media come in all forms and formats. The variety of news sources means that it is increasingly difficult for just one interest to set a national or state agenda,” Patterson said.
That speaks to the dwindling influence of both of the statewide newspapers today.
The Deseret News does not endorse political candidates, but may comment on certain political issues, and being owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, may carry influence among faithful members of Utah’s dominant religion.
The Tribune does endorse candidates in many statewide or county races.
But that newspaper is currently attempting to move to a non-profit foundation ownership method, which in the future could preclude political endorsements.
In addition, Tribune publisher Paul Huntsman has said the newspaper may move to only an online edition after next year, when the joint operating agreement between the Tribune and Deseret News ends.
In any case, the new Y2 survey shows that Utahns, like news consumers across the nation, are moving away from traditional news sources and getting their information from a greater variety of outlets, especially online (and often free) news sources.