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Study: Younger readers got more election news from national newspapers than local ones

The push for more digital news looks like it attracted a coveted demographic for three national news organizations: Younger readers.

The New York Times and The Washington Post attracted readers between the ages of 18 and 49 at nearly twice the rate of readers between the ages of 50 and 65 during the U.S. presidential campaign, according to a report from Pew, published Friday.

The Wall Street Journal also had a higher rate for younger readers than older ones.

Local papers didn’t do so well, though. Ten percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18-29 and 13 percent of readers between the ages of 30 to 49 read the paper. The 50-64 crowd nearly doubled that at 24 percent, while the 65-plus crowd brought in 43 percent.

“The new data suggest that the digital outreach efforts for these national newspaper brands may have attracted enough younger online readers to overcome a long-standing age gap for newspapers,” the report reads.

The study was conducted between Nov. 29 and Dec. 12 of last year among 4,183 adults in Pew’s American Trends Panel.

Related Training: Audience Growth and Digital Content Strategies

Is there anything other news organizations can learn from this? Authors Michael Barthel and Jeffrey Gottfried point out that the Journal, Times and Post have all made big plays for digital audiences.

Poynter has written about the approaches of all three.

But success in attracting a younger audience might not be the only way for a sustainable future, Gottfried and Barthel write.

…Indeed, attracting these younger, digital readers may help grow digital advertising revenue and even subscriptions. Nonetheless, most publishers still rely more heavily on print dollars. In other words, attracting young readers may be just one step in securing newspapers’ future.


Photo of Author

Kristen Hare covers the media for the Poynter Institute. Her work for Poynter has earned her a Mirror Award nomination. Hare, a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, spent 5 years as the Sunday features writer and an assistant editor at the St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press, and five years as a staff writer covering race, immigration, the census and aging at the St. Louis Beacon. She also spent two years with the Peace Corps in Guyana, South America. Hare and her family live outside Tampa.

(via Poynter)