Greater attention span for those reading news online

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A new study, the EyeTrack07 survey by the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism school, found that those who read news from online sources have a greater attention span than those who read traditional printed news.

Online readers read 77% of what they chose to read, whilst newspaper readers read just 62%, with tabloid readers down at 57% (no comment).

Saran Quinn, the Project’s director, said that this shattered the myth that web readers had shorter attention spans.

“Nearly two-thirds of online readers, once they chose a particular item to read, read all of text,” she said.

The study also found that people paid more attention to articles written in a question and answer format, or as lists.

The study was carried out by asking participants to read either the online or print version of their chosen publication over a 30-day period. Two small cameras mounted above the subject’s right eye measured what they were reading.

75% of print readers were methodical, reading top to bottom without much scanning, compared to 50% of the online readers.

600 people were involved in the survey, comprising readers of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, and the Philadelphia Daily News.

Andy Merrett

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