There’s a myth that newspaper readers are greying. Data suggest this narrative is fatally flawed.
Each year, Nielsen Scarborough conducts extensive interviews with over 204,000 adults across the country, in markets large and small, to collect data on media usage habits, consumption patterns and purchasing habits. This database is widely-used by advertising media planners to target audiences for their clients and by media companies in advertising sales efforts.
A quick look at the median age of the survey respondents yields some interesting comparisons. The median age for all 204,000 respondents (only adults are interviewed) is 47.6 years (see table). The median age of a person reading a daily print newspaper is 57.9, which is younger than the median age for those who watched The Weather Channel (58.9), and the Fox News Channel (58.4) in the past week. The median age for those who read the print newspaper on Sunday (56.7) is slightly younger than the MSNBC viewer during the past 7 days (57.5).
On cumulative basis across a typical week, the median age of the newspaper print audience is 53.5, younger than that for those who typically watch national/network television news (55.8) or local television evening news (55.1). It is also younger than viewers of CNN—including Headline News—CNBC, and those who listen to radio news/talk programming. And a person who uses both print newspapers and engages with newspaper digital content is younger still, at 49.6 years.
A typical adult who goes online during a month has a median age of 43.8. Newspaper digital platforms engage adults whose average age is younger than that overall online population. For example, the median age of those who visited any newspaper website in the past month is 41.4. Those who used a mobile device to engage with newspaper media have a median age of 38.6, younger than that for Facebook (41.3) or the Huffington Post (39.4). And those who use only a mobile device exclusively for newspaper digital content—not a desktop or laptop computer—are younger still, with a median age of 34.7, not far from the average Twitter user (34.3).
Overall, these data suggest the audiences engaged with newspaper content—in print or on digital platforms—are well-distributed throughout all age groups.
Jim is the Vice President of Research & Industry Analysis at News Media Alliance.