In a surprise finding, online readers finish news stories more often than those who read in print, according to the Poynter Institute’s Eyetrack study released Wednesday at the American Society of Newspaper Editors conference.
When readers chose to read an online story, they usually read an average of 77% of the story, compared to 62% in broadsheets and 57% in tabloids.
The study also revealed that only half of online readers scan, the others are methodical in their reading.
In addition, nearly two-thirds of online readers read all of the text of a particular story once they began to read it, the survey revealed. In print, 68% of tabloid readers continued reading a specific story through the jump to another page, while 59% did so in broadsheet reading.
The research also found that 75% of print readers are methodical in their reading, which means they start reading a page at a particular story and work their way through each story. Just 25% of print readers are scanners, who scan the entire page first, then choose a story to read.
Online, however, about half of readers are methodical, while the other half scan, the report found. The survey also revealed that large headlines and fewer, large photos attracted more eyes than smaller images in print. But online, readers were drawn more to navigation bars and teasers.
I wonder if this will have any effect on the traditional newspapers who are losing readership and are wondering how best to transition to the Web. At the BlogHer conference last week, Carolyn Little, CEO and publisher of the online Washingtonpost and Newsweek Interactive, shared that online content reached a far greater audience than print.
Clearly, the reading habits of the world are changing. And the need for writers who know the Web and can write for the Web is growing.