Printed news is not dead: CSU study

Dr Asim Qayyum from CSU's School of Information Studies
Dr Asim Qayyum from CSU's School of Information Studies

Many young people turn to the web to find out what's happening in the world but Charles Sturt University (CSU) research has shown they still value holding newsprint in their hands.

As part of the study by Dr Asim Qayyum from CSU's School of Information Studies, a small sample of regional university students aged 18-25 years were asked how they get their news and what value they put on different types of media. 

Using CSU's Digital Library Usability Laboratory - a special facility that allows researchers to record screen movement, key strokes and monitor eye tracking - students were asked to look for news on the web.

"This project showed that a transition to online news is happening but that the traditional newspaper is still holding a place in society," Dr Asim said.

"The current generation still talk about getting a nice feeling about holding a newspaper and reading it. Although it's not for serious news seeking and often the young people see reading the paper as a leisure activity.

"The study also found that young people turned to the printed newspaper for local news reporting that 'the paper tells us what is going to happen in our community rather than what has happened' which shows that local newspapers are doing a good job.

"Most people said that they would prefer to read an editorial opinion in the printed newspaper, a more professional opinion, rather than read an online blog which they described as being the views of somebody on the street.

"In terms of the quality of articles published electronically, in our study people trusted news articles they read online, as long as the website looked professional and was ranked high in Google search results."

Dr Qayyum said young people are also reluctant to pay for their news online.

"The view expressed by many in the study was 'Why should I have to subscribe for something that I have been getting for free?'," he said.

"Our research was focused on desk and laptop computers but technology has moved on with the development of better tablet computers and the proliferation of smart phones. This has made online news more accessible and is an area that needs further research."


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