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Print & digital need to work together, report says

Research has found that whilst people are moving more towards digital channels for news, consumers would miss print if it disappeared.

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Consumers are reading less printed news

Two Sides UK conducted a survey with research firm, Toluna, to find out how consumers feel about print. The result is a mixed bag and highlights the importance of print and digital working together not against each other.

Unsurprisingly, the report shows a shift to digital platforms for news and media with over half of respondents saying they would read more news online in future. Despite this, 43% of consumers said they would be concerned if print vanished.

This highlights the growing struggle of printed newspapers and other news outlets which often rely on subscriptions and donations to generate income, as digital outlets thrive. The pandemic has added to this strain as consumers swapped their commutes for working from home and the world went ‘paperless’ in the name of hygiene.

Consumers are no longer picking up a newspaper on their daily commute, or holiday goers able to indulge in their favourite magazine mid-flight

Two Sides UK reports: “Consumers are no longer picking up a newspaper on their daily commute, or holiday goers able to indulge in their favourite magazine mid-flight. Newsstands and freesheets have closed or lost their usual traffic.

“Facing this challenge, traditional news brands have successfully developed and improved their digital platforms and, for many, online has become the default reading option – although, not necessarily out of choice.”

Whilst there is a clear growth in digital, what the study shows is that this shift isn’t necessarily supported by all. Two Sides UK found that 54% of over 65-year-olds prefer to read their newspapers in print, 37% prefer to read magazines in print, and 50% prefer to read books in print.

Although this is reassuring in a sense, it also raises the question of what attitudes to print will be like when the younger generation, who are predominantly opting for digital today, make up the entire population that is accessing news.

Reading printed books can help boost wellbeing

With this in mind, the study also raises the issue of wellbeing and the positive impact reading physical print can have on mental health. The report found that 45% of consumers are concerned about how digital devices could be damaging their health.

Although the findings paint a somewhat uncertain picture for the long-term future of print for news and media, Two Sides UK highlights ways that print and digital can work together.

The report says: “Print and digital are often compared in a bid to decide which is best. However, the debate shouldn’t be centred around “print vs. digital”, as both channels are important and complement each other.

“Ultimately, consumers must be given the right to decide how they would like to access news and information; ensuring that consumer choice is maintained and those unwilling or unable to access digital information are not disadvantaged.”

If you have any news, please email carys@linkpublishing.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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