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Pew Profiles 'On-the-Go' Mobile Local News Consumers

March 16, 2011

Nearly one-half of US adults (47%) get at least some local news and information via cellphone or tablet computer, and such mobile consumers tend to be young, affluent, and more plugged into digital media and their local communities, according to a survey from Pew.

More than eight in ten surveyed US adults (84%) own a cellphone, a figure that has remained relatively stable since mid-2008. Roughly 7% of adults own a tablet computer, but virtually all tablet owners are also cellphone users, so the total population of mobile device owners (cellphone and/or tablet users) is 84%.

Below, other findings from the survey titled How Mobile Devices Are Changing Community Information Environments, issued by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Demographics of On-the-Go Local News Segment

Though nearly one-half of all adults on average access local information via mobile device, that on-the-go local news segment is disproportionately young, affluent, and educated:

  • 70% of adults age 18-29 who own cell phones or tablet computers get local news and information via mobile device, as do 63% of those age 30-39.
  • 67% of cell/tablet owners with annual incomes greater than $75,000 access local news information via mobile device, compared with 54% of those with incomes below that level.
  • 63% of college graduates who own cellphones or tablets get local news and information via mobile devices, compared with just 37% of cell/tablet users who have not completed high school.

Mobile Users Seeking Practical, Real-Time Information

Some 42% of cell/tablet owners—or 36% of the US adult population—say they use their device to access local weather information weather updates, and 37% access information about restaurants or other local businesses via mobile devices.

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