Print Newspaper Readership Yielding to Internet Publishing

Print Newspaper Readership Yielding to Internet Publishing

According to the 2008 Readership Institute, Northwestern University tracking study of newspaper and online readership in 100 U.S communities, reported by Mary Nesbitt, Readership Behavior Scores (calculated on a 1-7 scale) among the general adult population have averaged 3.4 over the last six years, with variations likely due, in whole or part, to seasonal variations. With non-readers out of the mix, readers of the local daily newspaper registered a 4.7 score this year, a level that has actually risen slowly since the first measurement in 2002.

Some of the key findings of the study are reported by the writer as follows:

  • Readership among 18-24-year-olds in the general population continues to slowly decline; but the habit is fairly stable for 45-plus
  • People who read newspapers say they spend, on average, 27 minutes with them on weekdays, and 57 minutes on Sundays. The first figure has stayed stable, but the latter figure has been slowly dropping since 2002
  • Readers continue to engage with the newspaper, on average, more than five days a week
  • On average they complete 60 percent of the paper on weekdays and 62 percent on Sundays, also stable habits says the write

Change In Print Newspaper Consumption by US Adult Internet Users Since Reading at a Newspaper Website (% of respondents)






More often





About the same





Less often





Source: Readership Institute, July 2008

The penetration of newspaper Web sites is still quite low in most communities, though it should be noted that only the main sites were measured, not related sites whose ownership consumers might not recognize.

62 percent of respondents said they had never visited the local newspaper's Website, and only 14 percent said they had visited between the last seven to 30 days, numbers that have improved only a little over the last five years. The Site Usage Measurement (SUM) score for the general population is only 1.26 on a 1-7 scale. When non-users are removed from the sample, Web site users score 2.54.

Readers are more engaged with print than with the Web site, according to the report, with ratings for four experiences that are significantly higher for the newspaper than for the site:

  • "gives me something to talk about"
  • "looks out for my interests"
  • "ad usefulness"  
  • "touches and inspires me"

The trends are clear, concludes the writer, that low-reading groups continue to take their low-reading habits with them as they age. The very youngest adults have media and news habits very different from their parents. For the first time in six years RBS scores are dropping among people who also look at the newspaper's Website.

For additional information and the complete release, please visit here.


1 comment about "Print Newspaper Readership Yielding to Internet Publishing".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. naomi canaan, March 29, 2009 at 6:55 p.m.

    March 29, 2009

    The closing of daily and regional newspapers, because they’ve been encumbered with backbreaking debt appears to be first, irresponsible capitalism and secondly and foremost, an assault on free speech. As we all know, newspapers, and the unbiased third estate it represents, are an integral part of the functioning of a free and democratic society, which depends on having an educated and informed public.
    The fact that over the past ten years buyouts and consolidations have cost 12,000 journalists their jobs, leaves me to believe that the disbanding of a free press, especially classic investigation, in America, may have been the true agenda. If closings continue, as they seem to be slated to do, this country will have one or two corporate news outlets, filtering and choosing what news is fit to print. Quite frankly if the only media left standing in a year or two is USA Today, Bloomberg, Forbes, and CNN, America will only have corporate media bites to inform them and that’s unacceptable.
    The time may have come for alternative ownership options.
    Newspapers are profitable businesses generally showing a 15% to 20% profit margin. They create jobs, take people off unemployment insurance, welfare and food stamp lines. These jobs pay mortgages and rent and generate disposable income for its employees to use in businesses within their vicinity and most importantly, it keeps the citizenry informed on local, regional, state and national issues. Furthermore, these jobs generate incomes from which taxes and social security can be paid.
    Not only is the newspaper business basically a very sound and reliable investment it’s a necessary civic investment and as such requires adequate representation in a free diverse media marketplace. This diversity is essential.
    Perusing a newspaper requires a very different mental acuity and in many cases preference and consequently becomes a unique experience which is totally different from scrolling and surfing through a web site. While on line distribution of the news is compatible with the printed newspaper, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an equal substitution.

Next story loading loading..