Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Do you remember more if you read it in print?

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

A new study from the University of Houston (UH) says readers remember more from newspapers than online. That’s an interesting finding given that more and more people are looking to the Internet for their daily news.

It’s no secret that I still look to the printed newspaper each morning to start my day. But I’m also among those who read online news sources at other times of the day. Do I remember more from my morning newspaper reading habit? That’s certainly up for debate.   

The UH researchers used two groups of students who were told to avoid reading news stories for a period of time. They were then instructed to read the New York Times for 20 minutes – one group reading stories from the print version, the other browsing the NYT website. The study found that those who read the print version remembered an average of 4.24 news stories a short time later, while the online readers remembered 3.35 stories. 

The lead author of the study, Professor Arthur Santana, says there could be a number of reasons. He notes that there are more distractions in the online version. The online story placement and prominence are always changing so readers may be less apt to register which are the important stories of the day. He notes that the print newspaper is generally dedicated mostly to news and print readers may be more methodical.

The UH study was done to help newspapers become more aware of the differences in reading news online versus in print. It will be interesting to see if those who lead news operations are able to capitalize on these findings as the newspaper business continues to evolve.

What do you think? How often do you read a printed newspaper? Do you remember more when you read something in print as opposed to online?

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