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US Report: Online news is booming

The number of Americans turning to the Internet for news is growing "at an astonishing rate," according to a survey released this week by the Pew Research Centre in the U.S.

The percentage of Americans getting their news from the Internet - at least once a week - has tripled since 1995, from 11 million to 36 million, the survey says. That increase, however, isn't a threat to traditional news outlets: there's no data to show that going online decreases users' appetite for mainstream news sources.

The number of people using the Internet for news regularly is 20 percent across all age groups, while the total number of eyes scanning online news is small compared to those watching television, the good news is that these users are young, hip and rich.

News on the Net captures 30 percent of all Americans between 18 and 30 years of age, a 23 percent increase from 1995. Some 35 percent of all college graduates use the Net for news, as do 34 percent of all those with a family income over $50,000 (£31,000).

Conversely, only 11 percent of those with only a high school education turned to the Internet for news, as did only 8 percent of those with a family income of under $20,000 (£12,000) a year.

Despite the amount of news sources available, fewer than 20 percent of those online feel "overloaded" with information compared to 35 percent of non-computer users.

More than half (54 percent) of those seeking news online do so to get more information on a story they first saw or heard from a traditional news source the survey says - a fact that sticks a thumb in the eye of the conventional wisdom that says online news users don't like to "read online".

The survey points out the link between MSNBC cable and MSNBC.COM and says that "interestingly", the cable channel is "no more popular among online users than among those who do not use a computer".