A new study shows that readers spend an average of 40 minutes reading the print edition of newspapers, while the same titles on digital platforms manage to engage their attention for less than a minute.

In terms of the total amount of time readers devote to newspapers, 89 per cent goes to the print edition. Online and mobile formats take up what is left – 4 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively.

Neil Thurman, professor, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich, the author of the study, says, “Digital media has significantly extended the reach of major newspapers, in some cases several fold”, but that this does not follow on to longer or more thorough engagement.

This means that readers of newspapers prefer – paper. In relation to the time they devote to their favourite papers, the digital editions play only a marginal role. He says, “Scale those numbers up and you can see why newspapers still rely on print for the vast majority of the attention they receive.”

In the course of his study, Thurman analysed data collected by the UK National Readership Surveys and comScore (a market research firm) for eleven of the leading daily papers published in the UK, including The Guardian, The Times and the tabloids The Mail, The Sun and The Mirror, for the period between April 2015 and March 2016.

Thurman believes that the results of his survey may well apply to the other media landscapes also. Data published in the Reuters Institute Digital News Reports suggest that in Germany printed newspapers are 38 per cent more likely to be used as a weekly source of news than online newspapers. In the UK the figure is 13 per cent.

He concludes, “Therefore, given the relative popularity of printed newspapers in Germany, I would expect that Germans would spend even more time with newspapers in print than readers in the UK.”

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