A commonly cited truism is that smartphones are fracturing news reading into fast, intermittent spates of attention – so-called “snacking” or “grazing” on news. But is this really the case, asks Logan Molyneux, of Temple University. Molyneux conducted two online surveys, to which over 2 600 Americans responded.
The author expected the audience to spend more time reading news on platforms other than the smartphone: television, radio, print, and computer. This indeed is the case, although the first survey suggested only minor differences. Again in accordance with Molyneux’s hypotheses, the audience also reads news more often on the smartphone – only computer use is as frequent.
This “snacking” behaviour is not as worrisome as some have suggested, the author argues. According to the survey, those who use smartphones for reading news are also most keen to read news on other platforms as well. In fact, multi-platform use seems to be very common: 95 per cent of respondents said they use at least two platforms to access news. Furthermore, 29 per cent told they use all five platforms.
Demographics-wise, younger and wealthier individuals are more likely than others to access news on multiple platforms. Men and well-educated are also more inclined to use several platforms, although these factors have much smaller effects than age and income.
The article “Mobile News Consumption: A habit of snacking” was published by the journal Digital Journalism. It is available online on the publisher’s website (free abstract) and on Academia.edu (open access).
Picture: Untitled by Karolina Grabowska, licence CC0 1.0.