Changes in audience behavior can have profound effects on media institutions, and that is why news organizations employ various techniques to engage readers.
Neil Thurman of the Department of Communication Studies and Media Research of LMU Munich in Germany and Richard Fletcher of Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford surveyed British audiences to examine the changes of readers’ attention spans for news content between 1999 and 2016.
Results showed that eight UK newspapers suffered a drop in attention from their audiences aged 18 and over during the period. In 1999-2000, this audience segment read the newspapers’ print editions for a total of 407 billion minutes a year. By 2016 those same newspapers’ print and online editions were being read for a total of 245 billion minutes a year by their adult audiences.
In terms of age group, attention level differed significantly during the period. In 1999-2000 about 43 percent of the time spent with newspapers by their adult audiences came from the oldest (aged over 54) audience segment, 34 percent from those aged 35-54, and 23 percent from those aged 18-34. By 2016 those proportions had changed to 62, 24, and 14 percent, respectively.
During the period, two newspapers—The Guardian and The Standard—have increased the attention they receive, by 19 and 17 percent, respectively. On the other hand, The Mail, The Mirror and The Sun lost attention.
The authors said, “Although digital distribution has allowed newspaper brands to reach out to younger audiences, the ﬂeeting attention paid by those accessing newspaper content via PCs and mobile devices has diluted digital distribution’s rejuvenating effects.”
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2SwGGdb
Thurman, N., & Fletcher, R. (2019). Has digital distribution rejuvenated readership? Revisiting the age demographics of newspaper consumption. Journalism Studies, 20(4), 542-562.