The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Survey: Love of mobile news does not = pay for mobile news

March 13, 2011 |  9:01 pm

IPhonePic A new survey finds that nearly half of all adult Americans say they use their cellphone or a tablet computer to get at least some of their local news -- particularly "news you can use," such as the weather and restaurant tips.

The increasingly mobile nature of the news audience is described in a report to be released Monday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Although the portability of news may be good for news outlets, the challenge remains: how to make money on the service.

Many information providers hope to charge for mobile "apps" to recoup the cost of news gathering and making a profit. But the project's survey of more than 2,200 Americans finds that only one in 10 mobile customers use apps to get their local information and only 10% of that smaller number pay for the news applications. The net: just one in 100 American adults pays for an app to access the news.

Although newspapers continue to provide most unique local news, the survey showed a minority of Americans willing to pay to keep that information coming online. Of survey respondents, 23% said they would pay $5 a month to get full access to local newspaper content online. That figure dropped to 18% if they would have to pay $10 per month, 18% of adults said yes -- although that's still considerably higher than the 5% of adults who now pay for online local news.

The mobile users plug in, tune in and turn on via a plethora of devices. Of those who use their mobile devices for news, 51% said they acquire information via six or more different sources or platforms per month. And 75% of the "mobile" group connect via social networks.

The survey is part of the Washington-based organization's 2011 State of the News Media Report.

For those of you keeping score at home: New Ways to Consume News = Infinite. New Ways to Pay for News = Elusive.

-- James Rainey

Twitter: latimesrainey

Photo: Nearly half of Americans use their mobile phones or tablets to get local news, especially weather and local dining and shopping tips. But few of them pay for the information, or want to pay in the future.

Credit: PRNewsFoto / MyLikes