The set of respondents to this study include newspaper subscribers from 47 states plus the District of Columbia.
Most of these subscribers live in suburban areas (55 percent), while 28 percent live in urban areas and 17 percent live in rural areas.
The subscribers interviewed skew older than the general population—65 percent are age 60 and older, and 93 percent are over age 40.
Roughly a third are high income (earn $100,000 a year or more), and a third are middle income (earn between $50,000 and $100,000). Many are highly educated: two-thirds have a college degree, and another 26 percent have some college education.
These subscribers are also mostly white (88 percent), while 12 percent are black, Hispanic, or another race or ethnicity. Fifty-one percent are men, and 47 percent are women.
These subscribers consume a great deal of news on many different devices and platforms
These recent subscribers consume news frequently, with 91 percent saying they look at the news at least “several times a day.”
Most of these respondents’ subscriptions include a print edition. Seventy-nine percent say they receive home or mail delivery of a print newspaper. About half of the respondents’ subscriptions include unlimited access to the publication’s website or mobile apps, and half include access to a digital replica of the print newspaper. Thirty-seven percent of the subscriptions include both a print edition and unlimited digital access.
Among all the study’s subscribers, 71 percent prefer or only use the print paper, 26 percent prefer or only use digital content, and 3 percent do not have a preference.
Regardless of preference, about half of subscribers get news from the paper they subscribe to about once a day, while a quarter say they get it more than once a day and a quarter say they get it less than once a day.
Many of these subscribers consider news important to them. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) say it is either extremely important to them (23 percent) or very important (49 percent).
These subscribers all subscribe to a newspaper, but they also get news through other devices and mediums. Overall, the respondent gets news from five devices daily, and 1 in 4 people use seven or more devices.
These subscribers are active news consumers, and many are civically motivated readers
The majority of respondents in this survey identify themselves as people more inclined to seek out the news they want (86 percent), rather than bump into it while doing other things (13 percent).
But among these subscribers, the majority say they prefer to get the news just once or a few times a day (67 percent), while about a third (31 percent) prefer to get news throughout the day.
In a separate study, the Media Insight Project conducted qualitative interviews using a methodology called Human Centered Design. This is a system, innovated at the Stanford Design School, that uses long interviews with people to develop personas or archetypes that helps designers or business people tailor products and processes for those consumers.
Using this method, a qualitative research team developed three archetypes of news subscribers. One group, whom we call Civically Committed, is oriented to subscribe to the news out of a sense of civic and even emotional motive, a desire to support journalism and be connected to the community. A second group, whom we call Thrifty Transactors, are motivated in larger part because they think the news will help them, particularly with saving money, and who say they look for coupons and also subscription discounts. A third group, the Elusive Engagers, are the least likely to subscribe, and when they do subscribe, they say it’s because it’s information they can’t find for free, often around a specific subject. These people are somewhat more likely than others to assemble their own news mix from many sources.
In this survey, respondents were asked to pick which set of group characteristics best described them. About half (45 percent) chose the description of the Civically Committed subscriber. A little more than a third (36 percent) identified with the description of the Thrifty Transactor. And just under 1 in 5 (17 percent) identified most strongly with the Elusive Engager.