Survey finds 84% read paper regularly

Data compiled for the Joint National Readership Survey found 84 per cent of adults in Ireland regularly access newspaper content, either in print or online.  Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Data compiled for the Joint National Readership Survey found 84 per cent of adults in Ireland regularly access newspaper content, either in print or online. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Tue, Feb 12, 2013, 00:00

More than four out of five people in Ireland read a printed newspaper regularly, but only slightly more than one in 10 regularly read newspapers online, new research has found.

Data compiled for the Joint National Readership Survey found 84 per cent of adults in Ireland regularly access newspaper content, either in print or online.

Some 82 per cent read print, while 11 per cent of those questioned read or accessed newspaper content online.

The figures are based on the “average issue readership” of newspapers and their websites, which is defined as “read yesterday” in the case of daily titles and “read in the past week” in the case of Sunday titles and weeklies. 

Over longer time frames, almost one in five people read newspaper content online, with 17 per cent of people reading online at least monthly. 

Less than 3 per cent of all readers said they read newspaper content online only, with the majority of the online audience also reading printed newspapers. The Sunday online audience was much smaller than that of daily titles. 

The data suggest newspaper readers are choosing to access newspaper content on more than one platform. 

“Online provides a small net contribution to total readership,” said Robin Addis, consultant at Millward Brown Lansdowne, which carries out the research on behalf of JNRS members. 

The JNRS found a clear generation gap in online readership, with 17 per cent of people under the age of 45 reading newspapers online at least weekly, but just 8 per cent of people aged over 45 reading online at the same frequency. 

The online audience is also heavily weighted in favour of the AB and C1 social classes. Urban readers are more likely to read online, with 20 per cent of people in Dublin reading content on newspaper sites on at least a weekly basis, compared to 10 per cent of the rest of Ireland. Millward Brown Lansdowne described these as “marked differences”. 

The JNRS is based on 7,000 face-to-face interviews a year, which take place on a continuous basis. 

Until last June, interviewees were not asked to differentiate between print and online readership, and some online-only readers may not have counted themselves as readers of the title. 

The questions asked have now been changed so that respondents are asked to detail both their print and online consumption of newspapers. Full data on the print and online readership of newspapers on a title-by-title basis will be available in August, when a full year of interviews has been completed. 

Aidan Greene, managing director of the media-buying agency MediaVest and independent chairman of the JNRS committee, said the international trend was for newspapers to refer to themselves as “news brands” in acknowledgement of their shifting audience. 

Measuring online readership “is good for advertising agencies, in that it enables us to tell our clients about readers they may have missed”, Mr Greene said, and also more accurately reflects news groups’ readership.