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Tablets encourage more diverse news reading, claims study

By Hugh Jordan

October 27, 2011 | 2 min read

Tablet computers are encouraging more active and diverse news reading habits among users, according to a new US study by Pew Research Center.

The survey, designed by Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and carried out by Princeton Survey Research Associates, looked at the news reading habits of 1,159 tablet owners that included 894 users (77%) who consume news at least once weekly.

Over half of those surveyed (53%) access news daily on their tablet, 42% reading in-depth articles on the device, not just headlines. A third (33%) said they had turned to new sources of news since buying their tablet, sources they had not accessed through TV or desktop computers.

However, the crucial problem remains - only 14% of the tablet owners paid for news content. Although a further 23% had existing subscriptions that included digital access.

And the results cast some doubt on hopes that apps will be an effective way of getting people to pay for content. Only 21% of the tablet users accessed news primarily through apps, 40% preferring to use the browser and 31% using both apps and the browser.

Given the demographic being surveyed - middle class, high earning, early adopters - their reticence to pay for content through apps should be cause for concern for media owners.

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