Based on a recent report of research carried out by the Center for the Digital Future at University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, consumers seem not to be sure of their preferences.
Only 56% of Internet users ranked newspapers as an important source of information, with an even lower 29% viewing papers as a source of entertainment. 18% withdrew their newspaper subscriptions because "they now get the same or related content online."
When asked what they would do if the print edition of their newspaper stopped, a significant 59% said they would go with the online edition, 37% said they would move on to the print edition of another newspaper, and 22% admitted that they would not miss the print edition of their paper.
With the above statistics, it is somewhat surprising that 61% of these same users find "only half or less of online information is reliable," with 14% believing that "only a small portion or none of the information online is reliable." Only 46% have some degree trust in the Internet, with 9% having no trust whatsoever.
In a twist previously explored by Sfnblog, 49% of internet users admitted to using sites such as Twitter, with only 0% willing to pay for the service. "Online providers face major challenges to get customers to pay for services they now receive for free," said Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future.
"Where are people going to find news and information they trust, in a world with a dwindling number of print publications and an ever-expanding number of online publications?" Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times asked, before answering, in summary of the figures above, that "readers have not yet figured out the answer to that." Can newspapers persuade readers that their online versions are trustworthy?
Source: 2010 Digital Future Report, The New York Times