Media Consumption Study Reveals Newspapers More Engaging Than TV, Radio, Web

By: Miki Johnson

Although newspapers are read only a few times a day and for brief periods each time, compared to other media, that time is relatively uninterrupted by other activities, a recent study by Ball State University’s Middletown Media Studies reported today.

Sixty-eight percent of the time test subjects spent with newspapers was without competition from other activities, compared to 53.8% for television and 41.4% for web. Eating was the most common activity paired with reading the newspaper.

Subjects spent a large amount of time (70%) splitting their attention between newspapers and another medium (a practice the study terms “concurrent media exposure”). To further investigate this pattern, the attention subjects paid to various media was noted as well as possible.

Although newspapers are often read in conjunction with other media, they usually are the “primary medium” of the two, drawing the most attention, the study concluded. Newspapers held up well to television and radio (71.3% and 75%, respectively) when the “primary medium” time was combined with single use time.

The study also observed when and where media was most often consumed. Not surprisingly, newspapers gain most exposure in the morning, specifically between 8 and 9 a.m., inside the home. Sunday constitutes a significant spike in time spent with the newspaper, 56.5 minutes as opposed to the second highest day, 34 minutes on Wednesday. Newspaper exposure stayed steady during the week and dropped on Saturday.

The Middletown Media Studies, funded by the Lilly Endowment and administered through the Center for Media Design at Ball State, deployed 150 observers with hand-held computers to observe 350 subjects’ media use from morning until night. The subjects came from Muncie and Indianapolis and were chosen to roughly represent national demographics.

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