A recent poll highlights that 96% of newspapers are still read in hard copy form rather than online, though a decline in the figure is somewhat inevitable. The study finding these results was published by City University which examined the reading patterns of 12 national newspapers for four years up to 2011. The study found that in 2011, the average daily readership per print to be 2.1 million compared to just under 710,000 online.
The investigation into newspaper readership was led by Dr. Neil Thurman of City’s journalism department and is by far one of the most comprehensive of its kind, highlighting that though we may live in the digital age, there is still life in hard copy newspapers, and likely will be for a while to come.
A Closer Look
A more detailed insight into the study reveals differences for different tabloids. For instance, websites such as The Independent, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph which don’t charge users to access content were the most popular taking roughly 7% of the total annual minutes of reading of the publications. For those sites that did charge users such asthe Financial Times, this figure was reduced to 4.1% and with The Times reduced all the way down to less than 1%.
Other popular publications were much less successful in transitioning to online media, with titles like The Sun achieving a maximum of 1.2% of their total readership from the internet. The implications of the study are not only relevant to the journalists and publishers but also to advertisers who now have a vast array of methods to communicate their messages with the wider public.
The only real flaw of the study was that it did not track reader’s behaviours via smartphone and tablet apps, though browsing regular websites with mobile devices was included. Dr. Neil Thurman states that the ‘the best we can do is estimate that ‘apps’ boost newspapers’ online reading time by between 20-25%’. Even with applications factored into the equation, the study would still state that over 90% of newspaper readership comes from print.
Not the End of Paper Yet
The study demonstrates to the wider public that tablets, whether they be iPads or Kindles have not taken over the country yet as people still prefer reading articles in hard-copy form. The news comes as a relief for not only print publications but also printing services nationwide, whose businesses are in many ways related as both fear the looming danger of online media replacing magazines and other similar enterprises.
Though the study does clearly state that a decline is inevitable, it seems that future is not here just yet. The benefits of media taking to the internet are quite obvious as it is easier and cheaper to obtain. In addition to this, with news published on the internet, individuals can also read the insights of other readers, whereas this is not possible with print publications. The internet essentially will form the new and powerful platform for nearly all kinds of media, and it’s only a matter of time before it completely obliterates the paper printing business.
This post is by Matt from Silver Image London. I have been in the printing industry for many years and I have seen our industry grow year on year.