Summary:  OK, OK, for those of you who self-identify as members of the digerati, you can file this posting under “Restatement of the Self-Evident.”  However, the always-reliable Pew Internet & American Life Project just released its findings on how Americans get news. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Online-News.aspx.

Most interesting to us are the “social networks” results—meaning the number of people who receive or share news via social networks.  This was barely an “industry” just two years ago.  Equally interesting is the percent of people who access such news via their mobile phones.  And, of course, we were sort of surprised that TV stills ranks as the #1 source.

The Details.

Paraphrasing the results of the study:

  • News from the Internet: Roughly six in ten get their news from online and offline sources combined.
  • #3 with a Bullet: The internet now ranks third behind the TV (local then national) as a news source.
  • Social Networks as News Networks: Three quarters of those who get their news online receive it via email or social media posts and a little more than half forward (or otherwise share) the news in the same fashion.  Moreover, 37% of Internet users have “contributed” to the news—including posts, comments, etc.
  • Portable: 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
  • Personalized: 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • Clutter Cutters—Brands Matter: Most online users rely on a handful of sources.

So What?

What these results tell us at Global Capital is that the Web now reaches many, many people through multiple platforms and not just through “traditional” news websites accessed by a PC.  That seems to be dropping in popularity in favor of mobile phones and through the user “generated” networks represented by Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Xing, you name it.

Thus, news travels fast and, in particular, through a network that becomes sort of iteratively self-selecting.  In other words, someone hears about a news event across several platforms, depending upon where they are in their day (and in some cases through multiple platforms at the same time) and then sends it out in one or more of several ways:  to all their friends;  to those who follow them on Twitter;  and to those who are friends on sites such as Facebook.

The platform almost doesn’t matter;  it just matters that it provides them the news (either directly from specified sources or through their social network connections) and that it then lets them forward it and in more than one-third of the cases, comment on it, as well.  Can you say the “Internet?”

One thing seems certain:  Substantial evidence of progress to the goal of:

Any content, anytime, any platform and with any interaction.

Draw your own conclusions, especially the business implications.  They are substantial.

James C. Roberts III is the Managing Partner of Global Capital Law Group and CEO of the strategic consulting firm, Global Capital Strategic Group.  He heads the international, mergers & acquisitions and transactional practices and the industry practices concentrating on digital, media, mobile and cleantech technologies.  He is currently involved in opening the Milan office.  Mr. Roberts speaks English and French and, with any luck, Italian in the distant future.  He received his JD from the University of Chicago Law School, his MA from Stanford University and his BS from the University of California—Berkeley.

The Global Capital firms counsel domestic and international clients on strategic and legal issues inherent in the deployment of intellectual & financial capital—a merger or acquisition, foreign market expansion, a strategic alliance, a digital content license, a mobile deal, foreign and domestic labor and employment policies, starting a new entity or raising capital. Clients range from global Fortune 100 corporations such as Deutsche Bank and News Corporation and its subsidiaries, MySpace.com and Fox Interactive Media, to start-ups.  Industries represented include digital media, Internet, software, medical and biotechnology, nanotechnology, consulting firms, environmental technology, advertising, museums and other cultural institutions and manufacturing.

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