A recent Pew report on online news use suggests that there are several distinct types of news consumers.
The study found that the largest group, accounting for more than half of online news users, could be classified as "Casual Users," those drawn to major stories through searches for more details. Another major source for casual users was referrals, most often from social media sites such as Facebook. The Pew study predicts that if search drove online news use over the last decade, that news referrals and news sharing through social media will be among the most important drivers of online news use in the next decade.
At the moment, "casual news users" - those who visit a particular online news site once or twice a month - account for 77% of the traffic to top news sites. On the other extreme, "Power Users" - those who visit a site more than 10 times a month - account for only 7% of traffic, on average. Of the five online news sites with the highest proportion of "Power Users," the top two are cable news giants CNN (at 18%) and Fox News (16%), followed by Yahoo (14%), AOL News (13.4%), and Google News (12.6%). The low number of Power Users and the failure of any traditional print outlet to appear near the top of the pile suggests that the prospects for building a subscription-based business model for online journalism aren't great. Add to that another result - that less than 10% of online news users spend more than an hour per month at any one online news site - suggests that the world of online news users are comprised more of grazers, spreading their online news use across many sites and sources, rather than regular, habitual, users of any particular source.
Source: "Web News Users 'Casual, Facebook Driving Traffic," Online Media Daily
Pew report - "Navigating News Online: Where People Go, How They Get There, and What Lures Them Away"