U.S. consumers want to know what’s happening in the news. Whether it’s a story about the war, the latest budget crisis or a natural disaster, people are paying attention. But they are accessing varying channels to get the news and media companies should watch the changing trends because ad dollars could be impacted.

While up to 2/3’s of consumers say they follow the news, a close examination of behavior shows that certain demographic groups are the best targets for news reporting organizations. For example, 17% of men call themselves news junkies while only 9% of women do. Older adults are more likely than younger adults to want to know what is going on. For example, up to 31% of Echo Boomers say they have little interest in this topic.

A new Harris poll points to TV as the preferred news gathering source. For moderate news consumers between the ages of 36 and 47, TV reigns with a loyalty rate of 52%. But 38% of this group says online is the dominant channel they access for news. Echo Boomers, ages 18-35, with a moderate news interest, are far more likely to go online – 55%, while only 34% of these consumers prefer TV.

When consumers read news, 41% prefer the online format and focus on headlines and one or two stories. Not surprisingly, matures enjoy reading traditional newspapers and they tend to skim entire articles instead of just headlines. Here’s how publishers can interest consumers in checking out the content more completely:

  • Use catchy headlines 54%
  • Include good photos 44%
  • Present compelling data/research 43%

Harris Poll Insights Vice President Jill Gress reports that “Americans are inundated with information and that assault of information is impacting, and will continue to impact, where Americans get their news from.” Analysts expect that consumers will continue to increase their online news consumption. As TV and print are ‘displaced’, media companies will be facing the erosion of critical advertising dollars. Getting the format right in the online channel may help these companies keep their best clients during the transition.

[Source: Harris Poll 55. The Harris Poll. 20 Sept. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012]