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Hypergene MediaBlog » Is Broadband the Killer App for News? Hypergene MediaBlog - News from the Bottom Up
All about Participatory Journalism - how audiences are changing the future of news and information.

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Is Broadband the Killer App for News?

In June of this year, the folks at the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study that went somewhat overlooked by purveyors of blogs, collaborative publishing, etc - The Broadband Difference: How online Americans’ behavior changes with high-speed Internet connections at home.

This report focuses on the nature of broadband use in American homes. Roughly 24 million Americans (21% of all Internet users) have high-speed connections at home. According to the report, there are three major ways in which broadband users distinguish themselves from their dial-up counterparts. For high-speed home users, broadband lets them use the Internet to:

• become creators and managers of online content;
• satisfy a wide range of queries for information, and;
• engage in multiple Internet activities on a daily basis.

This stats in this study lead us to recommend that media outlets interested in targeting audience participation in the journalistic process might expect broadband users as their early adopters, and should plan accordingly. These users are sophisticated Net vets - they will see immediately through shoddy attempts at online community.

The report also suggests that the most voracious consumers of online news and information are broadband users. Ridiculous deep linking policies (cul-de-sac thinking) and shovelware content are not going to keep these readers loyal and coming back for more. They’re more likely to find what they’re looking for in the Slashdot communities and smart aggregators such as Google News.

We’ve compiled a few stats from this study (below) which present the greatest value to news organizations.

Broadband users are creators and managers of online content
• 39% of broadband users have at one time or another created content for the Internet by doing such things as creating Web sites, posting their thoughts or other information to existing Web sites, and creating online diaries.

• Some 16% of broadband users create some kind of content for the Web on a typical day online.

• Content creation is an especially prominent activity for a subset of the broadband population that we call the broadband elite. These are the quarter of the home broadband population who do 10 or more online activities on a typical day. On any given day, four out of five (81%) members of the broadband elite post content to the Internet, such as updating a Web page, sharing files, or storing information online.

They use their “always on” connections to satisfy their queries
• Close to 9 in 10 broadband users (86%) say the Internet has improved their ability to learn new things. Two-thirds (65%) say the Internet has helped them better pursue their hobbies and interests.

• 46% of broadband users get news online on any given day (that’s more than twice the percentage of their dial-up counterparts - 24%). In fact, broadband users are more likely to get news online than read a newspaper on an average day (40% do that).

The data in this report is vast and useful. Do yourself a favor and download it.

Posted on Oct 07, 2002 | 5:50 pm EST

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