This piece originally appeared in Media In Canada. You can find it online here.
It’s a little overwhelming when you consider how much the world has changed in the last decade. In 2012, tablets had only just established themselves as a viable new content distribution platform, and mobile payments and voice-controlled technology had barely begun to roll out. On social, new-to-the-scene niche platform, Instagram, had recently become part of the Facebook family. The digital age was going mainstream.
So what role could newspapers play? Had they lost ground to the new online offerings? To find out, in 2012 News Media Canada – the voice of Canada’s news media industry – launched the first ‘Newspapers 24/7′ report to consider how the medium was evolving in the face of this new digital deluge. The results showed that newspapers were still standing strong.
But cut to ten years later and that digital tsunami has only picked up speed. Canadians are plugged in like never before. Are newspapers still riding high?
To find out, as part of its recent National Newspaper Week campaign (made possible in part by the Government of Canada), the organization began a new conversation with consumers to gauge how their view of the medium had evolved over the last decade.
Working with Totum Research, in November 2021 they kicked off a national readership survey that asked 825 adult Canadians about their weekly readership habits when it came to print and digital newspapers.
The results – to say the least – were surprising.
At first glance, the biggest revelation to come out of those discussions might be that newspaper readership has essentially remained the same over the last decade. Despite an endless array of media options and digital distractions, readers are still choosing to turn to traditional news sources. In 2012, 85% of respondents said they regularly read the newspaper. In 2022 weekly readership had edged up slightly to 86%.
But what had changed was the distribution method. Of course, some readers still love their print (46%), but most found themselves turning to digital (95%), with some reading on all four platforms – phone, tablet, desktop and print (25%). Perhaps not surprisingly, the platform leading the digital charge is mobile. In 2022, 69% of readership was on their phone, up from just 38% in 2012.
So, if the ‘how’ is changing, what about the ‘who’?
While many think they’ve abandoned the newspapers for greener digital pastures, Gen-Y/Millennials showed the strongest usage of all demos. A total of 87% of the demo consumed newspaper content in some way over the course of a week – led by phone usage. (Although 22% of Gen-Y/Millennial respondents used all four platforms over the course of the seven days.) Of course, Boomers remain the strongest print readers, though they were also more likely to make some use of all platforms throughout the week.
When it came to the important topic of trust, News Media Canada’s 2022 Newspapers 24/7 study found that trust in newspapers has remained high. Looking at editorial content in print, 57% of respondents said the medium was ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ trustworthy. When it came to news media websites that number was 54%. Those results put the medium well ahead of radio, TV, magazines, social and search in terms of consumer confidence.
Similarly, print and digital news media advertising outranked the competition when it came to trust in advertising. So, despite the general downward pressure from what are viewed as less reliable distribution platforms, newspapers remain a safe space for readers.
For more information and to access the full 2022 Newspapers 24/7 findings visit: www.championthetruth.ca