As of 2011, nearly 80% of American adults were online. For young American adults, 33% get news from social networks, 34% watched TV news, and 13% read print or digital content. While TV remains the most popular source of news, more Americans get their news via the Internet than from newspapers or radio.
The percent of online news users who blog about news ranges from 1–5%. Greater percentages use social media to comment on news, but online news users are most likely to use social media to share stories without creating content.
While consumer preference of media venue shifts with technology, the overwhelmingly large percentage of passive consumers of news remains. While they discuss and share news online, news content is still the product of journalists, researchers, PR people and bloggers.
With news content today containing nearly as much public relations propaganda as journalism, social media discussions about news content and production bring both serious scrutiny and outright nonsense. What the Internet offers is a venue where citizen journalism can find an audience, but the skills and practices involved in journalism still demand study, discipline and resources few have access to.
Crowd-funded journalism is fine, but it is no substitute for professional media. As many citizen journalism producers have discovered, it’s hard to cover the news when you can’t afford to cover travel expenses, equipment and salaries for the people doing it.