eMarketer this week reported that in 2011, adult consumers said they spent 65 minutes a day on mobile devices, versus 44 minutes with print media. Of that, all of 26 minutes was spent with newspapers, and 18 minutes with magazines. Since it takes 26 minutes just to hand-sanitize the newsprint off your fingers, one suspects that a good deal of newspaper reading is being done online.
But I am old-school. Each morning I read the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and local Stamford, Ct. papers in their traditional dead-tree format. It takes about an hour and change, depending how much overlap there is in sports and crap simply not worth reading, like 14 ways to cook gefilte fish or the daily errant speculation on why the market moved up or down. In this way I am armed and dangerous with current facts and figures when discussion breaks out in the gym locker room about UConn basketball – or, at dinner parties, who will win the Republican primaries. Not that either topic interests me in the least.
It’s hard to have a discussion on current events in a household where nobody else reads the paper. Unless their teachers bring it up in class or it involves a celebrity, my teenagers haven't a clue what goes in the world around them -- including their own little town. The only debt crisis to them is when the funds on their allowance-loaded cards are about to evaporate. (I have begged at every teacher meeting to involve newspaper stories in the curriculum, but to no avail.) But I am sure they would argue that between Facebook and their iPhones, they get all of the "news" they need or want.
My family thinks I am unnecessarily compulsive about my newspapers, especially when I take over the family room on Saturday and Sunday mornings to tackle a few hours of Sunday paper reading (and yes, that often includes the ads and those dammed inserts/flyers). Oddly, on those few times I go on vacation and make a point of not reading the papers (including their online versions) my life somehow goes on pretty unaffected. Moreover, I have read the accounts of those who say that reading the news is utterly pointless and just creates unnecessary anxiety.
But newspapers are more than just an anxiety-producing set of stories about events well beyond my control (and often, interest). They are the primary drivers of what I watch on TV, which new books I buy, which movies get on my "see" list (well,, that and my Flixster app), who I vote for, where I send charitable contributions, sometimes where I shop and how much I pay -- and well, yes, find out 14 ways to cook gefilte fish. I am a notorious clipper (pulled a recipe to try just this morning) and often pass along to others the online versions of stories I read during each day's morning ritual readings.
Gotta say, all that takes a good deal longer than 26 minutes a day.