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Accessing the news in an age of mobile media: Tracing displacing and complementary effects of mobile news on newspapers and online news

Journal article
Authors Oscar Westlund
Mathias A. Färdigh
Published in Mobile Media & Communication
Volume 3
Issue 1
Pages 53-74
ISSN 2050-1579
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 53-74
Language en
Keywords Age cohorts, cross-media news, digital journalism, displacing effects, complementary effects, mobile news, news consumption, newspaper reading, online news, tablet news
Subject categories Media and Communications

Abstract

Legacy news media have invested substantially in developing digital and mobile newsprovisioning, alongside the widespread diffusion of information and communication technologies. Amid these developments, many people have shifted the ways they access the news in everyday life, with mobile devices gaining much significance. This has shifted the roles traditionally played by newspapers, television stations, radio broadcasters and news sites, ultimately relating to their democratic functions and the diminishing effect of their business models. This article will describe and explain displacing vis-à-vis complementary effects among age cohorts. It shows how the recent uptake of mobile devices has influenced news consumption via newspapers and news sites. It investigates three research questions, each focusing age cohorts in relation to singlemedia use, cross-media use, and nonuse. The article presents a statistical analysis of datasets nationally representative to Sweden and the specific case of evening tabloids. The data used originate from scientific omnibus survey projects conducted annually from 1986 to 2012 at the University of Gothenburg. The findings show that the public generally engage in single-media rather than cross-media news consumption, whereas age cohorts have developed divergent forms of single-media use: (a) the 1930s and 1940s age cohort are primarily single-media users in print, (b) the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s age cohorts are computer-oriented single-media users; and (c) the 1980s and 1990s age cohorts are mainly single-media users via mobile devices, but also cross-media users of mobile devices combined with a computer. As of 2012, the uptake of mobile news and cross-media news consumption reached new records, whereas the single-media use of printed newspapers reached a new low. The integrated theoretical framework proves useful for comprehending such transforming news consumption among age cohorts, and reveals the significance for legacy news media to explore and exploit the opportunities arising from mobile devices and tablets.

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