What’s black & white but not read all over?


The headline was too cute to resist.


A recent study by the polling firm Harris Interactive said a majority of adults in most Western nations think newspapers are important. They just don’t have time to read them.


Harris conducted an online survey of “8,749 adults within France (1,134); Germany (1,133); Great Britain (1,006); Italy (1,122); Spain (995); Australia (976); and the United States (2,383), between May 2 and 14, 2007. “


Among the findings:

  • “frequency of newspaper readership varies greatly. Almost half (48%) of Spanish adults and 46 percent of Germans are regular readers (5 or more days a week). Two out of five US adults (39%) are regular readers as are one-third of British adults (35%), Italian adults (34%) and Australian adults (33%). On the low end, just one-quarter (26%) of French adults regularly read the paper;”
  • reasons for non-readership were lack of time and, in European countries, a suggestion that papers are biased;
  • lack of credibility also bothered respondents; “On a scale of 0 to 100 where ‘0’ means they have absolutely no credibility and ‘100’ means complete credibility, adults in great Britain rate newspapers a score of 50 which is the lowest of all the countries — closely followed by Italy (mean of 52) and the United States (mean of 57).”
  • “Four out of five or more adults in all seven countries say it is important for newspapers to have roles such as providing news and information about evens in their region, country and the world.”

Meanwhile, who is doing what online? Based on research from Forrester, Business Week has published a series of charts breaking down what people of different ages do online: what percentage create material versus merely lurking, and so on. Click on the chart link to view the data. The most noteworthy figure, to my mind, was the low penetration of RSS as a tool for collecting information. Fewer than 18 percent of all age groups use RSS, one of the lowest average participation rates for any of the activities surveyed. Another result of information overload?