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An AARP Bulletin Poll: Future of Newspapers

Executive Summary

Recently, challenges for newspaper readership as well as production costs have escalated for even the most prominent print newspapers.  Some have collapsed, some daily papers are now weeklies, and some with the largest circulations have transitioned all or part of their content to online. While there are free online papers, some plan to charge for part, if not for all, access to the content.

AARP commissioned a telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of adults age 18 and over for the AARP Bulletin to gain a perspective on consumers’ behavior in this time of newspapers transitioning to different media.

Key Findings from this executive summary include:

  • Those 65 and older read the print newspapers at a higher rate than younger age groups, who are equally likely to say they read one more often or less often now than in the past, suggesting there is no growth in readership among younger age groups. This could indicate that the current problems with readership for the print newspaper may continue into the future.
  • Only a small percentage of respondents are willing to pay for an online version of the newspaper; the majority of the respondents prefer to get their news from television. This suggests that the challenges newspapers face will continue to mount, even as they transition from print to an online version.
  • Respondents who have a college degree or post-college study are more likely to read the paper on a daily basis than those with a high school education or less.
  • Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to indicate they currently read the paper more than they did five years ago.  White respondents are more likely to say the frequency of their reading was the same compared with Blacks and Hispanics.
  • As age increases, preference for getting news online decreases: Generation Y (37%), Generation X (34%), and Boomers (23%) are much more likely to prefer to get their news online than the Silent Generation (8%).
  • When the print-edition newspaper readers were asked how willing they would be to pay more for it in order to keep it around, more than half (54%) would be very or somewhat willing to pay more.

The AARP “Future of Newspapers Poll” was conducted for the AARP Bulletin between January 15 and January 24, 2010, with a nationally representative sample of 1,040 adults age 18 and over.  Items were added to an Omnibus survey fielded by Social Science Research Solutions, Inc. that asked the respondents about their news reading behavior and their preferences for getting news.  For more information, contact Helen Brown at (202) 434‐6172. (13 pages)

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