Mutter: 74 percent of newspaper audience is over 45

Reflections of a Newsosaur

Alan Mutter compared Pew Research data that broke down newspaper readership by age with census data. The results "caused me to check my math several extra times, because the new data show that the newspaper audience has aged radically since I performed the same analysis in 2010, discovering that only 51% of newspaper readers were older than 45," he writes.

If the aging of the newspaper audience seemed like a problem for the industry in back in 2010, then the far older audience today can be regarded as nothing less than a crisis.

TV news' audience is also getting older, Pew said in its most recent study of news consumption habits. 34 percent of people under 30 reported they watched TV news the day before in the 2012 survey; in 2006, 49 percent of that demographic said it had. Where are those pesky millennials getting their news? One-third say social networks fill that role.

Besides the fact that older audiences don't appeal to advertisers, "the heavy dependence of the newspaper industry on aged and aging readers means that its audience at some point will die off," Mutter writes. (Strictly speaking, that is true of all audiences, but larger point taken.)

While there doesn’t appear to be much hope of attracting a significant number of sub-45 individuals to the print product, publishers have a shot at extending and protecting their valuable franchises by developing digitally native products that could – and should – be embraced by the Digital Natives.

Previously: Millennials know what newspapers are, have touched them

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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