LONDON: Overturning a popular perception that newsprint is dying because of the digital invasion, new research has found that youths in Britain spend more time with newspapers in print than online.
Readers aged 18 to 34 are spending nearly twice as much time with newspapers’ print editions than with their websites and apps, said the study published in the journal Journalism Studies.
“For younger readers, like for middle-aged and older consumers, newspaper print editions provide an experience they invest time in, compared to how they snack and scan news online,” said lead author Neil Thurman, Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich.
The researchers calculated the total time spent with eight UK newspaper brands — The Mail, Mirror, The Sun, Star, Standard, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Times — by their British print and online (PC and mobile) audiences (aged 18 and over) using data from the National Readership Survey and comScore.
In 2016, the 18-34 year old British readers of the eight UK national newspapers spent a total of 21.7 billion minutes reading the news brands’ print editions, but just 11.9 billion minutes using their websites and apps, the findings showed.
But there is also bad news.
Although most newspapers are attracting more attention from younger readers via their print editions than their online channels, the young are spending less time with newspaper brands than they used to even though digital distribution has made access easier and cheaper.
The researchers compared the time spent with newspapers in 2016 against the time spent at the turn of the millennium.
Overall there has been a 40 per cent drop, with much larger falls in the attention coming from younger (-64 per cent) and middle-aged (-57 per cent) readers than from the older (-14 per cent) audience segment.
However, some newspaper brands have bucked this downward trend in visibility.
The study found that the total time spent with The Guardian and the London Evening Standard by their British audiences had actually increased since the turn of the millennium, by 19 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.
In the case of The Guardian, the researchers credited the gain to the title’s relatively successful online editions, which have attracted more attention than has been lost from declines in its print readership.
In the Standard’s case, becoming a freesheet in 2009 boosted readership — and, as a result, time spent with the brand, the study said.