Good news for people who love bad news

Journalists are used to bad news–both on the job, and about their jobs. But this year's Canadian Newspaper Association Ink + Beyond conference ended on a positive note, with good news coming from the keynote speaker, Angus Reid.

As CEO of Vision Critical, an online market research firm, and founder of Angus Reid Group, Reid knows a thing or two about what people want. And one of his messages at Friday morning's event is that people still want traditional media.

"The idea that there's a zero-sum relationship between old media and new media isn't true," Reid said, before revealing the results of two major media studies his company performed last year. He explained that though there is a growing category of people he deemed "media maniacs"–those who consume social media, online media, mobile media, etc.–that this consumption of media is on top of the traditional media that they're already consuming.

Reid said that part of the reason why people continue to want traditional media is because they feel they can trust it. To prove this point, he showed results from a study also performed by Vision Critical, which showed people's trust levels depending on the source of information.

The study showed, in part, that people rate information received from traditional media much higher than information from new media. Highlights of the study:

  • Family: 78%
  • Friends: 66%
  • Broadcast and radio: 45%
  • Print: 41%
  • Social networks: 13%
  • Blogs, forums, chat rooms, etc.: 8%

What this adds up to is good news for newspapers. But Reid emphasized several times throughout his speech that going forward, the reader–and newspapers' knowledge about the reader–will be key to their success.

The importance of market research about newspapers' audiences: who they are, what their preferences are, etc., has never been more important, Reid argued. Traditionally, audience measurements for media have been inaccurate, mired by politics, and clumsy. Luckily, he said, new technology and the efficiency of online surveying will help to combat this.

"I think there is a good future out there for your industry," he closed his speech by saying. "I really believe this."