Smartphones not replacing traditional media for news access

Posted by Kate Taylor

More and more people may be using mobile phones to access news, say researchers, but this isn't eating into the kfor more traditional news services.

Instead, mobile access is reserved for periods when other media sources are either unavailable or inconvenient to use - surprisingly, says Ohio State University professor John Dimmick.

"Typically, what happens with new media is that they compete with and displace older media to a certain extent, like television did with radio," he says.

"But at least early in its development, mobile media isn’t taking us away from older media – it has its own separate niche."

This study involved 166 participants who agreed to keep a time-space diary of their media use over the course of a day.  They recorded where and when they accessed a variety of media technologies,

including mobile media technologies such as smart phones, as well as television, newspaper, computers, radio and others.

The participants recorded whenever they accessed news, sports or weather content, on any technology at any place and time.

The team found that 'legacy' media such as newspapers, radio and television are still just as popular as ever. Mobile media is filling in the spaces and times where people are on the move, away from their offices and homes.

Overall, mobile media was still a relatively minor player, accounting for only about seven percent of all media sessions.

Computers were the most popular method for accessing news, with about 24 percent of all media sessions occurring on desktops and 15 percent on laptops. Television accounted for about 29 percent of all media sessions. Newspapers and radio each accounted for about nine percent.

But each form of technology had its own niche where it was particularly popular, the results showed.

For example, mobile was clearly the preferred method of accessing news during the workday, but television led during the evening and night. 

The clearest niche for newspapers appeared to be at home during the morning. Computers, both desktop and laptop, were most often used to access news at work, and radio in the car.