Print newspaper readership in yearlong decline; online trending up

Jan 07, 2016 by

BY ROSARIO FAJARDO

With the emergence of the internet and its accelerated growth, printed media has seen a decrease in usage virtually worldwide. This change hasn’t been felt as strongly in Puerto Rico, primarily because the average internet user here has remained very young and this demographic is less likely to be interested in traditional news coverage, according to Gaither International. As such, the printed newspaper readership incidence had remained flat for the past couple of years.

This trend may be beginning to change, Gaither reported in this week’s survey. This year, there has been a yearlong decline in the percentage of local respondents who have mentioned reading printed daily newspapers “yesterday.”

During the first three months of the year, 28% of respondents 12 years and older mentioned reading a newspaper during an average day, Gaither said. So far during December, that percent-age has decreased to 23%. This five- percentage-point difference represents about 140,000 fewer daily newspaper readRead a Print Newspaperers in Puerto Rico.

“While cost may be a factor for some, I don’t believe it to be the most important one. It can certainly influence which newspaper they choose, but I believe overall demand for printed versions of newspapers would still be going down [even] if they were all free,” said Armando Sánchez, vice president of syndicated studies at Gaither International.

But print’s losses are online’s gains, in which the percentage of respondents who have mentioned reading online newspapers has been increasing. During 2013, 17% of them mentioned reading online newspapers. This percentage has since increased to 24%, Gaither said, representing a gain of some 240,000 on-line readers in the two-year span.

A similar trend shows an increasing number of people are following news-paper outlets on different social media channels, as detailed in a previous November 2015 poll.

That survey found that the percent-age of respondents in Puerto Rico who follow at least one newspaper outlet’s social media page, such as Facebook and Twitter, has been steadily increasing during the past four years. In fact, among the island’s total population of 3.5 million people, the trend has doubled from 8% in 2012 to 16% in 2015.

“[Print media] should place emphasis on their web presence to grow readership, especially those younger and from higher socioeconomic levels. However, print remains the preferred choice for a majority of older age groups who are also the only growing segment of the population,” Sánchez said. “From the advertising standpoint, even though online ad spending has been increasing, it still hasn’t reached the level of print ad spending.”

The results are from Gaither International’s Media Brand Profiles tracking survey, which interviews more than 80 people daily from among a representative sample of Puerto Rico’s population ages 12 and older.

Polling is conducted by Gaither Inter-national and results are reported exclusively by Caribbean Business.

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