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More than ninety percent of newspaper reading still with print editions

Dr Neil Thurman's study of 12 national newspapers in Great Britain, revelas time spent with online editions still dwarfed by attention given to newsprint.

by Ben

A new study by Dr Neil Thurman, from City's Department of Journalism, shows that an average of at least ninety six percent of the time spent with newspapers by their UK readers was in print (excluding use of 'apps'). The research also questions the transformative effects of online readers from overseas, and of tablet and smartphone 'apps'. 

Analysing trends over a four year period the study shows that only one newspaper, The Guardian, saw an increase in the total time its domestic readers spent with the brand in print and online. Across the 12 titles, combined print and online reading time fell by an average of more than four percent per year.

Published in the journal Digital Journalism, the study is one of the most comprehensive of its kind and demonstrates the enduring importance of newspapers' print editions in capturing and holding their readers' attention.

One of the study's more surprising findings is that for most newspapers their overseas audience still spends more time with the printed paper than with the online edition.

Dr Thurman, said: "Although the overseas audience does account for a significant proportion of newspapers' online reading time, they have not off-set the attention lost from dwindling domestic print sales"

The study's main online reading data did not track readers' consumption of smartphone and tablet 'apps', but the browsing of their regular websites via mobile devices was included. 

"There has been very little information the consumption of newspapers' 'app' editions. The best we can do is estimate that 'apps' boost newspapers' online reading time by between 20-25%. Unfortunately, for most newspapers, such a boost from mobile platforms has not countered losses in reading time due to falling print circulations," according to Dr Thurman.

Even with 'apps' factored in, the study concludes that more than 90% of newspaper reading time still comes from print. 

The research has been covered in The Times newspaper (subscription required).

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.