More Bad News for Newspapers

As some of the Bancroft family scrambles to find another bidder for Dow Jones, the latest polling data on media consumption might make you wonder why: This Harvard University Kennedy School of Government report is more bad new for the media business: The young ‘uns don’t care very much for the printed word:

Based on a national survey of 1800 randomly sampled teens, young adults, and older adults, this report examines the amount of daily news consumed by young people. The evidence shows that young Americans are estranged from the daily newspaper and rely more heavily on television than on the Internet for their news.

A few decades ago, there were not large differences in the news habits and daily information levels of younger and older Americans. Today,  unlike most older Americans, many young people find a bit of news here and there and do not make it a routine part of their day.

And all this time I thought this internet thingie might catch on . . .

UPDATE: July 16, 2007 7:34pm

I forgot to mention: today is the day the newstand edition of the WSJ rises 50% to $1.50. (but there’s no inflation . . . )

click for larger table


Young People and News
Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, July 2007
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Young Adults Are Giving Newspapers Scant Notice 
NYTimes, July 16, 2007

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. Ross commented on Jul 16

    Confession time. Yep. I went cold turkey 3 weeks ago. After 40++ years of being a subscriber to the Dallas Morning News, I cancelled my service. It was difficult those first few days. I found myself wondering to the driveway only to discover no paper. It took about a week to figure out a new news sourcing routine.
    The poor owner, A. H. Belo has suffered a decline in circulation these past several years. In order to stem the bleeding, this is what they did.
    1. Cut back circulation to cities outside the metroplex.
    2. Raised prices substantially each year.
    3. Layed off substantially all of their news and opinion writing staff.
    4. Sourced most of their news from wire services.

    I realize the world changes but watching a hallowed industry commit suicide in the past 7 years is almost too much to bare.

    Goodbye Dallas Mourning News. I cannot miss what is no longer there, A newspaper…

  2. tt commented on Jul 16

    Am I the only one surprised to find 50% of teenagers reading the newspaper at least once a week? I didn’t touch a paper until after college.

  3. JKB commented on Jul 16

    This is surprising. Being an older adult and almost never a newspaper reader, I now find television news slow. Why wait until they bring up the coverage when I can just bring it up on the internet. I really like the local weather guys who cut in with a plea, “Will the rain bring flooding? Join me at 11 for the detailed forecast” Or I can just bring up the same forecasts he is using on the internet now and watch the Daily show at 11.

    Speaking of which, I read quite a few people believe the Daily Show and Colbert Report are actual news. I wonder if that skewed results for teenagers and young adults?

  4. michael schumacher commented on Jul 16

    Newspaper???……….oh that’s the stuff that lines the catbox…..we keep it over by that thing called an “LP”

    said the under thirty year old.


  5. Pool Shark commented on Jul 16

    Newspaper, hmm….

    Oh, I remember, that’s the paper thingy that’s just like the internet except:

    It gets ink all over your hands,

    The information is usually a day old,

    Only a limited amount of information is included,

    They kill trees, and

    They’re expensive.

    (no wonder they’re in trouble)

  6. mhm commented on Jul 16

    The only paper subscription I still have is The Economist. I spend +10h a day in front of two computers with broadband, so I’m up to the minute with all other relevant news. Couldn’t care less for any other print or TV sources.

  7. worth commented on Jul 16

    Dow Jones isn’t JUST the Journal, although the WSJ is its “crowning jewel” (dubbed so by the Financial Times and many others). And even people who get their “news” (aka “information”) online still like to read the paper version of the Journal, as will these teens who eventually go to college and then graduate and find themselves in the business world. Until somebody hands me something on my way out the door that I can take with me on the train and to lunch to read without downloading anything to a device with a screen that’s too small to be usable for reading full news articles, I’ll be an FT paper subscriber (same logic applies for WSJ subs). This is even though I have not had a local newspaper subscription in close to 10 years and likely never will again.

  8. super-anon commented on Jul 16

    The only paper subscription I still have is The Economist.

    The Economist is awesome. It’s the only magazine I subscribe to, and they don’t feed you BS trying to be the advertising wing of the finance industry.

    I still subscribe to the print edition of the WSJ, and I just like the ritual of getting a paper every day even though I’ve read most of the articles online by the time I get the hardcopy.

    Plus I find it useful to cut out choice articles and paste them up in my office to scare fellow employees.

  9. michael schumacher commented on Jul 16

    OT but here is another slant on the credit market that , as per the last several months, will not make one bit of difference to the index(s)…..but it should.

    Sort of written half-assed but it still points out the continuing “issues” that surround the credit market. Remember Wall St. has made sure that you know that it’s just an “issue” and not a problem.


  10. Anitra commented on Jul 16

    I think we see a combination of two factors here: time and money. Younger people want to get their news as quickly and cheaply as possible. That usually means listening or watching the sound-bytes, rather than reading for more depth (either in print or on-line).

    As an under-30, I have to say that I _like_ newspapers, but not enough to pay for them (usually); at least not when I can get my news for free from the radio & internet. NPR is where I get most of my news, because I can listen to it on my drive/carpool to work. Can’t do that with any other source.

  11. jim r commented on Jul 16


    to your point, bloomberg reported over the weekend that the LA Times had one of their worst qtrs ever. it was speculated that this might affect the Tribune transaction

  12. timThompson commented on Jul 16

    Re: JKB’s comment on The Daily Show

    I would have loved to see what percentage of the younger people counted the Daily Show as a television news program, too. Anecdotally I think it would be the vast majority of them.

  13. KnotRP commented on Jul 16

    > a national survey of 1800 randomly sampled teens

    …who were reachable via a telephone (or are you suggesting they travelled around the nation to sample this in person?) AND teenagers who happened to (1) pick up the phone even though the caller id showed it wasn’t a friend, and (2) didn’t hang up, and actually wasted their time responding to a survey instead of doing pretty much anything else….

    …this sounds exactly like the subset of teenagers who watch TV

  14. Norman commented on Jul 16

    This is a great study. Please notice that the culprit that newspapers and network news blame for their declining audience, the Internet, just as bad viewership as newspapers and is actually worse than National TV News.

    Thus, I think the declining fortunes of the MSM is a function of their dreary, pessimistic and biased view of the world.

  15. paul commented on Jul 16

    I have not had a paper subscription for the past 10 years, until recently subscribing to Barron’s. This is weekly review and analysis of the markets and investing, so I consider it to be in a slightly different category from the daily local newspaper. I still read the paper/WSJ, but only the left over pile while I am on the exercise bike at the gym.

    Are teenagers really watching the news??? The teenagers that are interested in what’s going on in the world are on the web. Something is wrong with that poll.

  16. gc commented on Jul 16

    It appears universal belief that papers are dead. So what makes the WSJ worth $5B to Rupert Murdoch? Is is that he’ll buy right for paper and ink? Where is his profit? How does he generate a 20% return on his investment? If he “saves money” by spending less in the newsroom, either by forcing people out or by voluntary departures, how does this result in a more valuable property? How does this work as the “Crown Jewel”?

  17. Davy Bui commented on Jul 16

    If newspapers are truly dying, score another one for America’s dumbing down. I think it was McLaren who stated that the medium is the message and for me, there’s some truth to this.

    Speaking as a 30-year old computer science graduate, I subscribe to both the FT and WSJ print/online editions. I don’t process the information nearly as well on a computer screen compared to print.

    I’ve only grudgingly transitioned to reading online annual reports, mainly due to necessity as it takes weeks to get one mailed. I’ve learned to love the convenience of copying and pasting relevant sections and charts into my notes but would probably be better off with hard copy.

    Taken as an interface question, it’s interesting to think about people’s browsing habits. Time spent on pages is measured in seconds, not minutes. Every other word is cross-linked and it’s easy to lose focus.

    Will we be able to solve our future energy and infrastructure problems after raising a whole ADD generation?

  18. Brian commented on Jul 16

    Go to Google News and click on the tiny green link that says “All X news articles.” Pages upon pages of online news sites that are simply publishing the exact same article. Newspapers are dying? Give me a break. The news is dying.

    WSJ still writes their own articles. That’s why they’re worth $5b to Murdoch. Once he’s got control, he’ll offer to syndicate their financial news. Within a year, every single other news source will have fired their financial staff and be on board. And then he owns the news. Game over.

  19. commented on Jul 17

    Young Adults are Given Newspapers Scant Attention

    Tom Patterson: 230K PDFBased on a national survey of 1800 randomly sampled teens, young adults, and older adults, this report examines the amount of daily news consumed by young people. The evidence shows that young Americans are estranged from…

  20. undergroundman commented on Jul 25

    The problem? WSJ’s writers aren’t worth 5 billion. And when they get fed up with dishing out Murdoch’s propoganda (or find that the target audience doesn’t want Murdoch spin), he’s screwed.

Read this next.

Posted Under