Majority of Americans rarely or never buy print version of their local newspaper, new poll says

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America used to be a nation of newspaper readers, but a sizable number of newspaper subscribers say they have dropped their subscriptions in the past five years.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 56% of American Adults still prefer reading the printed version of the news to reading it online, but that’s down from 69% five years ago.  One-in-three Americans (33%) prefer reading the online version of the news, up from 24% in May 2009. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

Sixty-nine percent say they have subscribed to a print newspaper and had it delivered to their home or office. But 39% of those subscribers say they have cancelled a newspaper subscription in the past five years because they can get that news elsewhere. Fifty-six percent (56%) continue to subscribe.

Fifty-one percent of all Americans now say they rarely or never buy a print version of their local newspaper. That’s a 21-point jump from 30% in March 2009. Back then, 30% said they read a print version of the local paper every day or nearly every day; now just 22% do.

Only 13% say they now get most of their news from print newspapers. TV is still the leader, with 38% who say it is their chief source of news, followed by the 31% who turn primarily to Internet news sites. Ten percent rely on radio for the news. Four percent depend chiefly on social media, while three percent get the news some other way.

Unchanged, however, in surveys over the past several years are the 60% who are confident that if many newspapers go out of business, online and other news sources will make up the difference and will report on things people want to know about. Thirty-six percent (36%) still don’t share that confidence. This includes 27% who are very confident other news sources will make up the difference and 10% who are Not At All Confident.

Sixty-nine percent of all Americans regard the news reported by the media as at least somewhat trustworthy, but that includes just 20% who think it is Very Trustworthy.

There is a distinct generational divide when it comes to where Americans go for their daily source of news. Adults under 40 turn to Internet news sites; middle-aged adults and senior citizens look to TV.

Generally speaking, the younger the adult, the more likely they are to have cancelled a newspaper subscription.

Blacks are more likely than whites and other minority adults to get their news primarily from television. Other minorities are more dependent on Internet news sites.

Women are more likely than men to prefer to read their news in print, but both are equally confident that online and other news sources will be a suitable replacement for daily newspapers if they go out of business.

Only 32% of all Americans think the Internet’s impact on journalism has been good for the nation. Twenty-two percent think its impact on journalism has been bad for the nation, while 35% think it has been neither good nor bad.

Americans strongly believe that news outlets should be more concerned with getting stories right than getting them first but feel it works the opposite way in most cases.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.