Analyzing demographics of newspaper readers

I read an interesting survey this week about newspaper readership.

It was the annual analysis conducted by Nielsen Scarborough, and this year it included interviews with more than 204,000 American adults about their media usage habits, consumption patterns and purchasing habits. While the report is widely used primarily by advertising media planners and for advertising sales efforts, I always find this information interesting simply because it demonstrates how readers and potential readers of the Tribune Chronicle and other newspapers nationwide are getting their news.

There is a myth that newspaper readers are an increasingly older population, but according to the Nielsen Scarborough readership survey, that’s not necessarily true.

Now don’t get me wrong. Studies of news habits indicate it is true that older people tend to plot time in their day to gather news — more so than people aged 18-34 who are typically referred to as “millennials.” Older generations, for instance, tend to start the day by reading their morning newspaper or they might plan their evening around the nightly news broadcast.

I think it’s those habits that might lead to the belief that only older people are reading the newspaper.

Anyone who associates regularly with younger adults knows millennials don’t engage in routine habits anywhere in life. In fact, as the mother of a 19-year-old son, I can attest that young people don’t seem to maintain any kind of regular habits, whether it’s eating regular meals, studying, washing their cars (an annoyance frequently cited by my husband regarding my son) or absorbing news.

When it comes to absorbing news, studies indicate that millennials rely in large part on social media for their intake about happenings around the world. In fact, about 60 percent of millennials say they simply stumble across news when they are engaging in other activities, mostly on social media. About 61 percent of millennials say they get their political news on Facebook. We know that can be problematic for many reasons that I’ve often written about in this space, including the spread of “fake news” on social media. However, I must admit that’s not ALWAYS the case, especially since it’s true that reputable news organizations — including the Tribune Chronicle — share breaking news daily via social media. Indeed, the Tribune Chronicle hosts Facebook and Twitter accounts where I and my editors post important information every day.

But I digress.

The Nielsen Scarborough study that I read this week indicated that the median age of a person reading the daily print newspaper is 57.9. I found that interesting because, for comparison, that’s younger than the median age of those who watched the Weather Channel (age 58.9) and Fox News (age 58.4) in the past week, according to an analysis of the Nielsen Scarborough study that was written byJim Conaghan and published by the News Media Alliance.

The study also reports the median age for those who read the print Sunday newspaper is age 56.7. Conahan says that is younger even than viewers who watched MSNBC over the last seven days, which is age 57.5.

On a typical week, Nielsen Scarborough says the median age of newspaper print readership is 53.5. Conahan says that’s younger than the average viewer of the national / network television news (55.8 years) or even local television evening news (55.1 years). The study shows that people who use both print newspapers, like the Tribune Chronicle, and engage in newspaper digital content, like or our All Access digital edition available to our subscribers, is younger still, at 49.6 years.

Anecdotally, my personal interaction with readers who often call and email me tends to align with the demographic findings of the Nielsen Scarborough study. I’m happy to report that you, the newspaper readers in America and in Warren, Ohio, see the importance of staying on top of the news in your local community.

And we, of course, are happy to keep providing it to you.