Newspapers retain their readership despite rise in digital distractions

Mohsin Abbas displays the front pages of three newspapers he revived, including the Tilbury Times Reporter, on a computer. (The Milton Reporter/Shazia Nazir) Shazia Nazir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter

By Shazia Nazir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Milton Reporter

A new survey has found out that traditional news outlets are retaining their readers even in 2022 despite the presence of a host of other news mediums.

News Media Canada in association of Totum Research carried out a national readership survey in November 2021 about their weekly readership habits when it came to print and digital newspapers.

In one such survey in 2012, 85% of respondents had said they regularly read the newspaper. In 2022 weekly readership had edged up slightly to 86%.

An endless array of media options and digital distractions aside, readers are still choosing to turn to traditional news sources.

Distribution method has, of course, changed. A big number of readers (46%) said they still preferred print, but most found themselves turning to digital (95%).

Some readers (25%) were found to be reading on all four platforms – phone, tablet, desktop and print (25%). The platform leading the digital charge is mobile. In 2022, 69% of readership was on their phone, up from just 38% in 2012.

The study found that readers still have a high level of trust in newspapers with 57% of respondents saying it was ‘completely’ or ‘somewhat’ trustworthy. In case of news websites, this metric stood at 54%.

Mohsin Abbas, a Milton-based publisher who has recently revived three newspapers in Southwestern Ontario, is surprised to see how many Canadian communities love their local newspapers and rely on these papers.

He said that while he had anticipated some readership, it was pleasant to see that many still relied on traditional papers, with some even choosing the hard copy.

Ross Brown, a Halton region journalist, strongly believes that the Canadian community newspaper culture will stay strong.

He attributes it to factual reporting and high editorial standards maintained by some newspapers that retain trust of readers.

When asked about their readership habit, Jim Andrew, a Milton resident said he would choose a traditional newspaper over TV any day.

‘With TV channels competing for ratings, objectivity and correctness can sometimes become a victim’, he said.

Michael Sicoli, another reader, said he chose traditional outlets because they provided whatever he needed to read in one place, saving him from distractions.

‘I currently read my newspaper in print, I might switch to digital completely in some time, but my choice of outlet would remain the same.’