For Local News Readers, Print Still King

naa-local-daily-paper-reach-april2012.jpgPrint remains the preferred format for catching up with the latest news, at least for frequent local newspaper readers, details the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) in an April 2012 report. Of the survey respondents, who were required to have used at least one of 4 possible platforms (print, online, tablet, and/or smartphone) in the past week for their local daily newspaper, 4 in 5 said they had read a print edition, while two-thirds had accessed the content digitally. Local news followers are not a small demographic, either: according to [pdf] an April Pew report, 72% of Americans follow local news closely, with about one-third of these enthusiasts saying it would have a major impact on them if their local newspaper no longer existed. In other words, close to one-quarter of Americans would feel a major impact if their local newspaper went out of existence.

Reading is a MultiPlatform Activity

Data from the NAA’s “Newspaper Multiplatform Usage” indicates that weekly local newspaper readers use on average 1.8 platforms to access their content. Among the 46% who use a single platform, print is far more popular than a computer (72% vs. 22%), though among the one-third who use two platforms, accessing content via a computer is more common than via print (89% vs. 84%).

Digital Readers Skew Male, Young

Breaking the results down by gender, the NAA study finds that male respondents are 14% more likely than their female counterparts to use a computer (64% vs. 56%) to access their local newspaper, and 26% more likely to use a smartphone (29% vs. 23%). There was virtually no difference in the proportion using a tablet.

Among the various age groups, 18-34-year-olds were 46% more likely than 35-44-year-olds (41% vs. 28%), and more than three times as likely as 45-64-year-olds (41% vs. 13%) to access local newspaper content on a smartphone. Not surprisingly, the popularity of print increases with age, with those over 65 16% more likely than the general average to read the print format (93% vs. 80%).

Other Findings:

  • Among NAA survey respondents, those who read the print format prefer doing so because it is a relaxing way for them to read the newspaper (66%), it provides a satisfying reading experience (61%), it is an easy way to get a complete view of the news (45%), and it has useful advertising (44%). According to December 2011 survey results from the NAA, 69% of residents in areas served by a local newspaper with circulation of under 15,000 say that their local paper provides valuable local shopping and advertising information, while if given the choice, 8 in 10 respondents said they would rather look through ads in the newspapers rather than view ads on the internet.
  • Among respondents to the most recent NAA survey who read on a desktop or laptop, almost two-thirds say it is an easy platform for using search for further information, while roughly 3 in 5 say it is an easy format for sharing stores with others.
  • Among local news enthusiasts responding to the Pew survey, most prefer to follow local topics through traditional media such as newspapers or TV news. For 12 of the 16 topics identified, newspapers were the top source (or tied as the top source) among these enthusiasts.

About the Data: The NAA survey was conducted from January 20 to February 1, 2012 by Frank N. Magid Associates, and consisted of 2,518 online interviews among adults aged over 18 nationwide screened for using, in the past 7 days, at least 1 of 4 platforms for their local daily newspaper (either print, online, tablet, and/or smartphone).

The Pew results are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from January 12 to 25, 2011, among a sample of 2,251 adults, age 18 and older. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,501) and cell phone (750, including 332 without a landline phone).