Broadband growth important to journalists

Forget my MTV, I want my high-speed Internet access.  The Pew Internet & American Life Project just released its latest survey on broadband penetration in the U.S., and even in these tough economic times, broadband adoption is growing.  According to the survey, 63% of American adults now have high-speed access.  That’s up about 15% from just a year ago and up 57% from just nine years ago.

Other interesting data from the study include statements on how people are using these high-speed connections.  For example, 68% of people say broadband is either very or somewhat important to them in finding out what is going on in their communities.  And 58% say high-speed access is very/somewhat important to them in sharing views with others about key issues.  Newsrooms should be well positioned to serve those needs, but how many local news sites are truly centers for community conversation?

The study also indicates that the increase in broadband penetration has given journalists an opportunity to reach more diverse audiences online than ever before.

The majority group of home high-speed users who say broadband is very important for at least one topic listed are younger than other broadband users (the median age is 39 for the “very important” majority versus 43 for the rest) and more ethnically diverse. Some 25% of those who see broadband as “’very important” in at least one way are English-speaking Hispanics (15%) or African Americans (10%)….

For years news organizations have been researching local audiences to find out what they wanted; now it’s just as important to know what drives local Web audiences.  These types of national surveys may offer a place to start in understanding how to improve the online news product.


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