July 17, 2018

The number of Americans who access news on mobile devices has nearly tripled since 2013, according to a survey released Tuesday from the Pew Research Center.

More U.S. adults now say they often get news on a mobile device (58 percent) than those who get news on a desktop or laptop computer (39 percent). About 96 percent said they access news via the internet.

Though young Americans use mobile devices to access news significantly more than desktop computers and at rates significantly higher than older Americans, Pew found the growth in mobile usage came mostly from older and low-income adults. About 36 percent of Americans aged 65 and older often access news via mobile devices. About 51 percent of those who earn less than $30K annually do the same.

Men, college graduates and those with higher incomes are all more likely to access news online through all devices.

The survey also found that non-whites are more likely to access news through mobile devices than whites, but whites are more likely to use desktops and laptops to access news than nonwhites.

The increase in the number of people who access news through mobile devices is important for journalists and newsrooms to keep in mind. Many reporters work solely from laptop and desktop computers and rarely stop to see how their work looks for users accessing it through mobile devices.

“It’s not enough for news sites to be ‘mobile compatible’ or ‘mobile friendly,’” the American Press Institute notes in its Better News project. “They must be mobile-oriented.”

In 2015, The New York Times blocked its employees from accessing its desktop homepage for a week to emphasize the importance of catering to users on mobile devices.

“More than half of our traffic to The Times is on mobile,” Times editors wrote in a memo to staff. “We’re hopeful that this temporary change will help spur us to make mobile an even more central part of everything that we do.”

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Ren LaForme is the Managing Editor of Poynter.org. He was previously Poynter's digital tools reporter, chronicling tools and technology for journalists, and a producer for…
Ren LaForme

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