World Association of News Publishers

Time Spent Reading News Brands

Time Spent Reading News Brands


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One year ago, WAN-IFRA's World Printers Forum published a report about the "Print–online performance gap." That report, based on a US study, gave rise to a great deal of discussion in the international newspaper community. It was also the WAN-IFRA report with the most downloads in 2017.

Using a longitudinal analysis of the readership data for 51 US metropolitan newspapers, the study essentially found that newspapers' assumptions about their future – that "print will one day die" and "digital will rule" – were woefully off the mark, as were their subsequent strategies.

The 2017 report was mainly based on reach (percentage of readers reached in a market) and readership (number of readers) in print and online. Those measurements, however, only show a part of the total picture.

That is why the current report focuses on measuring reader engagement. "Time spent" is one of the most precise measures of media use and complements other measures.

Dr. Neil Thurman, Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication Studies and Media Research, LMU Munich, wrote the core essay of this new report, which is based mainly on data from the UK news media industry.

It shows the different engagement levels of reading online and in print: "Whereas print and online readers look alike in the light of the readership metric, time spent reveals them to be very different creatures, with very different habits in the frequency and duration of their reading." (Neil Thurman)

Nine industry experts answered our questions about this research study, and we document their answers in the second part of this report. Their statements differ because of their different backgrounds. But they agree that print remains an integral part of the news publishing business and that "publishers should give their print product the required attention."

We hope this new report will again support the ongoing debate about the future of news publishing, and we welcome your comments.

Dr. Neil Thurman, Professor, Department of Communication Studies and Media Research at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany


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2018-10-01 10:10

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