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Survey: Online News Readership On the Rise

A new survey conducted for MSNBC by Market Facts Inc. reveals that news readers are turning to the Internet in increasing numbers, and in many cases, choosing the Net over traditional forms of media.

MSNBC said the study analyzed the Internet as a medium for gathering news in comparison to newspapers, broadcast television, radio, cable television, and magazines among regular online news consumers.

The survey data revealed that 20.1 million Internet users go to the Net for news, a number that accounts for more than half (53%) of the US Internet population.

Market Facts' research found that local, national, and world news, along with weather updates, led the way as the most important topics to users. The data also revealed that the Internet appears to be the preferred media for accessing financial news, suggesting more at-work usage for this topic than others.

Accounting for an average of 3.5 hours of use per week, Market Facts said the Internet leads magazines (2.4 hours), is almost even with newspapers (3.6 hours), and is just behind radio (4.5 hours), cable TV (5.0 hours), and broadcast TV (5.7 hours).

Almost one quarter (22%) of those using the Internet for news use it every day of the week, surpassing magazines (14%) and approaching radio (39%), cable television (51%), newspapers (55%), and broadcast television (60%), the survey said.

"The Internet news usage behavior pattern is shaping up similar to broadcast television in terms of weekday use, and is used more than cable television, newspapers and magazines during that same period of time," said Merrill Brown, editor in chief, MSNBC on the Internet.

"Additionally, on Saturdays, the Internet is used more than broadcast television, radio or newspapers, and on a weekly basis has nearly the same hours of use as newspapers."

On the demographics side, the survey revealed the average online news user is male, age 35-44, married, has a college degree, and earns over $50,000 per year.

For more details about the news survey, and information on how the data was collected, contact MSNBC.