United States

Pop 314m
Internet 78%
Smartphone 50%
Tablet 34%
Interest in news 68%
(7th= out of 10)

The US media environment is highly commercial and highly competitive. A range of television broadcasters, cable channels, prestigious newspapers, and websites compete in covering news and current affairs for a national audience. State and local issues are covered by local television stations, struggling metropolitan newspapers, as well as a growing number of online-only news outlets. Public media based on a combination of government appropriations, donations from users, and corporate sponsorship offer additional content to niche audiences both locally and nationally.



Digital developments

The US has high levels of internet, smartphone, and tablet use, but has been overtaken in terms of digital media use by some Western European and Asian countries. Pure players like Yahoo News, MSN, and the Huffington Post have considerable reach online, as have the cable news channels, and local television stations and local newspapers in their local markets. Despite their reputation, nationally distributed newspapers like USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times count only a modest part of the population amongst their online audience (the first operates a free model, the two others different kinds of paywall).

The US media environment stands apart from most other countries in this report by virtue of the size of the market and the stand-out success of a limited number of pure players who have established themselves as significant parts of the news system.

Social networks and digital participation

Social media like Facebook and YouTube are very widely used in US, and a significant minority of online news users also report that they use social networking sites to access, find, and engage with news. Twitter has a larger user base than in much of Western Europe, and is used by almost a third of the online ‘news lovers’ as a way of accessing and engaging with news. Both Twitter and Reddit played an important role in the coverage of stories such as Hurricane Sandy and the Boston bombings.


Top social networks*

* Use weekly for news