Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Digital Future: More Bad News for Newspapers

The news for newspapers is getting worse, according to the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School.

In its ninth annual "Digital Future Project" report, the Center continues to track reading and viewing trends, "watching as people move on-line and then move from modems to broadband. The project also carefully tracks those who drop off the net each year and whether they return and, if so, when and what brings them back. At the end of nine years, we also have an unparalleled view of the non-users who do not go on-line. We carefully examine why they are not users and whether they are likely to ever go on-line."

Among many other findings, its data illustrates the Web's contribution to the continuing free-fall decline of American daily print newspapers:

* The study found that as sources of information – their primary function – newspapers rank below the Internet or television. Only 56 percent of Internet users ranked newspapers as important or very important sources of information for them – a decrease from 60 percent in 2008 and below the Internet (78 percent), and television (68 percent).

* Even lower are the percentages of users who consider newspapers important as sources of entertainment for them, now considered important by 29 percent of Internet users, and down from 32 percent in 2008 – also last among principal media.

* Eighteen percent of Internet users said they stopped a subscription to a newspaper or magazine because they now get the same or related content online – down slightly from 22 percent in 2008, but nevertheless a strong indication that print newspapers can be sacrificed by a significant percentage of Internet users.

* Internet users were asked where they would go for information provided by their newspaper if the print edition ceased, 59 percent said they would read the online edition of the publication; only 37 percent said they would instead read the print edition of another newspaper.

* Twenty-two percent of users who read newspapers said they would not miss the print edition of their newspaper.
As they become more practical and affordable, e-readers and other handheld electronic devices (Kindles, iPads, etc.) are also spelling tragedy for print newspaper circulation.

Here's what Editor and Publisher has to say about it: "Newspapers Sink Below Internet and TV as Information Sources."

View highlights of the Digital Future report here (PDF).

The full Digital Future report is available for purchase here.

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