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BizReport : Blogs & Content archives : February 01, 2010

Harris Poll: Only 2 in 5 reading newspapers

It is no secret that offline readership for newspapers continues to drop, but several studies have shown much of the readership has simply switched to online formats. Not so according to a recent Harris Poll. In it researchers state that daily newspaper readers, either online or off, is down to just two in five readers.

by Kristina Knight

harris.gifPulling the numbers out to weekly stats is slightly better with seven in ten US consumers (70%) stating they read newspapers at least weekly. Meanwhile 81% admit reading newspapers 'monthly'; about 10% state they never crack open a paper.

One solution has been to attempt engagement through monetization of specific content, placing ads on printed content for example, or charging subscriptions to access content. While none of these has been a run-away success it is clear that publishers are more forward thinking now that they have been in the past. The question is: is the attempt too little too late. More data could indicate this is so.

The Harris Poll revealed:
• Those regularly reading newspapers are mostly over age 55
• Only 44% of respondents said they read a newspaper daily
• Only 36% of those 35-44 read daily and only 23% of young adults (18-34) say they read newspapers daily

While this is not staggering news, it is clear that the younger demographics - those most coveted by marketers - are not engaging with newspaper content. An indicator that whatever newspapers do to try to recover readership it may be too late. If consumers aren't reading physical papers now and if they aren't logging on to read now, for instance, why would these same consumers log on and pay a subscription fee to read the same content?

What publishers need first is a campaign to engage the reader, to convince them that reading online or offline papers is their best information resource. This means more than placing the printed version of a paper online. Instead publishers and content creators must give the consumer more than typical news stories; today's consumer wants opinions, they want to interact with the writer and they want to have their opinions heard.

Tags: Harris Poll, news content, newspaper advertising, newspaper readership, online content, paid content

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