Web News Readers Have Greater Attention Span: Study

A U.S. EyeTrack07 survey by the Poynter Institute found that people who use the Internet to read the news have a greater attention span than print readers. The Florida-based journalism school found online readers read 77% of what they chose to read while broadsheet newspaper readers read an average of 62%, and tabloid readers about 57%. The study also found that people paid more attention to items written in a question and answer format or as lists, and preferred documentary news photographs to staged or studio pictures. The study involved testing nearly 600 readers in four U.S. markets – readers of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, and the Philadelphia Daily News.

The test subjects, who were 49% women and 51% men aged between 18 and 60, were asked to read that day's edition in either print or online over 30 publication days. Two small cameras were mounted above the subject's right eye to monitor what they were reading. The study found about 75% of print readers were methodical compared to half of online readers. Methodical readers tend to read from top to bottom without much scanning around the page, read in a two-page view when reading in print, and re-read some material. But whether online readers were methodical or scanners, they read about the same volume of story text. Quinn said a prototype test also found that people answered more questions about a news item correctly if the information had been presented in an alternative manner rather than traditional narrative. Large headlines and photos in print were looked at first but online readers went for navigation bars and teasers.

News source: eWeek

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