November 29, 2016

News organizations are increasingly turning to push notifications to connect with readers who are awash in a flood of information.

A third of American smartphone users — most of them younger — receive news alerts, and most reported being satisfied with the notifications they receive, according to a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. More than a quarter of smartphone users in the UK receive news alerts, compared to two-fifths of smartphone users in Taiwan.

The study, conducted between September and October among thousands of smartphone users in four countries, showed that users tend to favor breaking news alerts and the organizations that provide them. CNN and Fox News are favorites in the United States, with newsy counterparts in Germany seeing similar success. In the UK, the BBC’s alerts reach 63 percent of smartphone users that receive push notifications.

The rise of push notifications coincides with efforts on the part of many news organizations to build direct connections with their audiences. As titans like Google and Facebook capture the attention of readers and advertisers alike, many newsrooms are fighting to preserve their relationships with news consumers.

Email newsletters and online subscriptions are both popular ways to connect with readers, but the immediacy of push notifications makes smartphone lock screens prime real estate for news organizations.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Most people who receive push notifications are happy with the frequency of alerts. About one in five Taiwanese smartphone users complain about receiving too many alerts compared to one in 10 users in the United Kingdom.
  • About a quarter of smartphone users have uninstalled an app because of the number of alerts they recieve, but generally not because of news alerts.
  • People like to read the news without any varnish or spin. Per the report, “alerts were valued when they were delivered quickly using straightforward language.”

You can read the full report here.

Correction: A previous version of this story said a third of Americans receive push notifications. In fact, a third of American smartphone users receive push notifications.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

More News

Back to News