Newspaper circulations have fallen in Europe in recent years, but a new survey suggests that the inexorable decline of print need not mean the death of newspapers as a whole.
The survey of more than 16,000 adults across eight European countries – Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK – found that people aged 18-29 more often named newspapers or magazines as their main source of news than people aged 30-49 and people aged 50+.
“Newspapers are far less common as a primary news source among the oldest age group in all eight countries,” Pew Research Centre, which carried out the study, said in its report. “A striking example is France, where Le Monde is the most commonly named main news source among those under 30 – 20% name it, compared with 6% of those 30 to 49 and just 2% of those 50 and older.”
Young people also tend to trust specific print news outlets more than older people, the survey found.
“For example, in France, younger adults trust each of the four newspaper brands asked about – Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération and L’Express – more than those in the oldest age group,” Pew said. “These gaps in trust can be substantial, with younger people at least 14 points more trusting of each of these sources than those 50 and older.”
This greater trust in specific print brands was found even though young people have less trust in media in general and often rate media less highly. In five of the eight countries, young people trusted media less than older people, and in four of the eight they had more negative attitudes about how well media perform on things like being politically neutral and holding governments to account.
Young people also tend to get their news in print at much lower rates than older people, with just 12% of those aged 18-29 getting news from print daily, compared with 22% of 30-49 year-olds and 39% of those aged 50%. Conversely, 73% of young people get online news daily, compared with 68% of 30-49 year-olds and 48% of older people.
This suggests that young people are reading newspapers and magazines daily, but are doing so online rather than in print, the researchers concluded.
“This preference for specific newspapers by younger Europeans exists even though they are less likely to get news from print platforms – suggesting that their consumption of news is more likely to be through newspaper websites or social media accounts.”
It seems the newspaper industry might survive after all – but only those brands that can find a way to capture people’s attention online and monetise that audience.