A new study revealed this week that approximately 46% of Americans say that on a typical day they get news from four to six different media platforms. Just 7% get their news from a single media platform.

Understanding the Participatory News Consumer

According to the study Understanding the Participatory News Consumer by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, the internet is at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing.

This report surveyed more than two thousand Americans' daily use of the Internet between December 28, 2009 and January 19, 2010. Split into five sections examining how users feel about the news and how they use and interact with it, overall results showed a focus on three new metrics:

  • 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.
  • Participatory: 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

What does all this mean? At the core, essentially it means that Americans access news and information in multiple formats on multiple platforms on a myriad of devices. What does it mean for the future of web publishing and the news industry?

Glad you asked.

The Future of Print Media is Digital

Wired Magazine recently posted a video that summed up how they envision digital magazines. Wired's Chris Anderson says that the magazine has created

a digital platform that allows us to retain all the rich visual features of high-gloss print, from lavish design to glorious photography, while augmenting it with video, animations, additional content and full interactivity.

Announced at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference, the publication will be releasing its content for the Apple iPad by summer. The iPad promises to make the switch from print to digital media consumption easier and more tantalizing.

Wired is just one of many magazines preparing for the launch of the iPad. Condé Nast's also plans for a slow rollout of its other magazines in iPad app form.

So if the future of publishing is digital and users seek out their news from multiple platforms, it means that digital media, including the iPad will need to capitalize on its portability, personalization and participatory nature.