Black And White And Read All Over

The vast majority of U.S. adults read newspaper media content across a range of technology platforms, including 59% of Americans ages 18-24, the youngest cohort of adults, that many are skeptical that they ever think about newspaper content. This observation is from an analysis of the newest data on media usage from Scarborough Research, conducted by researchers at the Newspaper Association of America.

Newspaper Media Audience (Millions of Adults)


Millions of Adults

% of Total U.S. Adults

Previous week/E-edition/Online excl. mobile



Previous week/E-edition/Online/+past month mobile



Source: Scarborough Research/NAA, May 2013

69% of Americans, more than 164 million adults in the United States, access newspaper media content in print or online during a typical week or on mobile devices during a typical month. And, according to the available monthly data, nearly 34 million adults accessed content from newspaper sources on tablets and smartphones in a typical month, an increase in mobile audience of 58% from the same period a year earlier.

N.B. These data points do not reflect the spike in sales for mobile devices in the past six months. It is likely that when new Scarborough data become available later in the year, the mobile component of the newspaper media audience will show continued growth.

17% of these mobile users are “mobile only,” meaning they access newspaper content exclusively on mobile devices. That translates into nearly 6 million adult Americans who are mobile-only newspaper users and constitutes a significant new audience group. Without mobile users included, 67% of U.S. adults, or 158 million, read content from newspaper media in a typical week.

To get a sense of just how much the rise in mobile may impact the age of media users, consider that almost half (47%) of the newspaper mobile-exclusive audience is age 18-34. Only 4% is 65 or older.

Age Composition of Mobile-Exclusive Newspaper Audience

Age Group

% of Audience













Source: Scarborough Research/NAA, May 2013

The younger audience is being increased by the growth in mobile, the population connected to the Internet by either smartphones or tablets. For instance, 54% of adults 18-24 consume newspaper content in print or on conventional computers, according to the report. When combined with the audience for that same group who uses smartphones or tablets exclusively to connect with newspaper content in an average month, the 18-to-24 audience rises to 59%.

While some may imagine that young people never read the newspaper, says the report, the empirical data tell a different story. The print audience for newspaper content does skew older; the median age of the newspaper reader is 54, about the same as the audience for local television news.

Median Adult Age of Consumers by Media Consumption

Media Consumption

Median Adult Age

Pure newspaper print, past week (No newspaper online past week or newspaper mobile past month)


Typically watch local evening TV news


Typically watch national/network TV news


Past week newspaper, print/e-edition/website


Typically watch late local TV news


Past week newspaper print/online or newspaper mobile past month


Scarborough survey respondent (Age 18+)


Any Internet access, past month


Any newspaper website, past month


Any broadcast TV website, past month


Any radio station website, past month


Facebook, past month


Currently own mobile device


Newspaper mobile, past month


Newspaper mobile exclusive, past month


Twitter, past month


Source: Scarborough Research/NAA, May 2013

Mobile newspaper users look like the mobile population generally when it comes to device ownership. Roughly half own smartphones that employ technology other than Apple iOS. Android phone technology by Google is the most popular of the non-Apple platforms. More than a third of smartphone newspaper users own iPhones. And among those who access newspaper content on tablets, the Apple iPad is about four to five times more popular than alternative brands.

Composition of Newspaper Mobile Users by Device Type



Mobile Users


Other Tablet


Other Smartphone

Other Mobile

All Newpaper Mobile Users






Newspaper Mobile Exclusive Users






Non-exclusive Newspaper Mobile Users






Source: Scarborough Research/NAA, May 2013

While the Internet has posed a challenge to newspaper economics, the report says that even before the advent of mobile, the Internet had likely significantly extended the reach of newspaper media and other legacy media sources to younger age groups.

The median age of print newspaper readers, for instance, is 54. That is almost identical to the median age of those who watch local TV evening news (53) or watch national/network news (53). The median age of the online newspaper media audience, by contrast, is 43 years old. That is also the median age of adults using the Internet for any purpose during the past month.

Mobile device ownership is even younger. The median age of those who own a smartphone or tablet computer is 38. And the median age of those who have used a mobile device to access newspaper content in a typical month is 37; those who are “newspaper mobile exclusive," meaning they have accessed newspapers only on mobile devices, are even younger with a median age of 33. The median age of those who used Twitter in the past month is similar, 32. The trend lines of newspaper audiences online and television audiences look relatively similar, concludes the report.

For additional information and charts, please visit the Newspaper Association of America here.


1 comment about "Black And White And Read All Over".
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  1. Juli Schatz from Image Grille, May 23, 2013 at 8:07 a.m.

    "The vast majority of U.S. adults read newspaper media content across a range of technology platforms, including 59% of Americans ages 18-24, the youngest cohort of adults, that many are skeptical that they ever think about newspaper content."

    Huh? It would sure help if the FIRST SENTENCE of the article made sense. Might make me want to read the rest of it, knowing that I would understand what the author is trying to convey.

    Can anyone say, "editor"?

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