Survey reflects changed use of news media, consumption
Written by Michael Lewis on September 25, 2018
We formally take the temperature of our readers every few years to help chart our course and to tell our advertisers who they’re reaching. As always, our survey results this year were impressive.
Think how many survey calls you get. Today alone I’ve been queried four times on politics, once on dining, so I doubly appreciate readers who took time amid this survey blitz to fill out Miami Today’s own four-page detailed study.
I said results were impressive “as always” because since we began our surveys in 1985 most data have varied little from study to study. They show a consistent audience and validate results. That’s why numbers that vary noticeably are highly significant.
What key data in the study by Behavioral Science Research of Coral Gables confirmed what we already knew about our print readers?
You’re very well educated (97% college, 52% post-grad), very well-to-do (mean household income $273,494, median $140,000-plus), and powerful at work (61% managerial or above, 31% business owners).
As for your links to us, we learned that you’re loyal (on average you’ve been Miami Today readers more than 12 years), inquisitive (85% spend more than 15 minutes reading each copy), and obviously like it (84% say it’s high quality civic and business news).
All of that confirms what you’ve been telling us in surveys for years. We appreciate the feedback.
But what you might find more interesting is variations indicating that something noteworthy is going on.
Perhaps most significant to us among the hundreds of data points is that Miami Today does not have just one audience. We actually have very different readers depending on whether you come to us via our printed paper, our website miamitodaynews.com, social media or our digital replica. Those divergent audiences use us very differently to get at the same news reports.
The survey tells us that half of our print readers never go to our website. Of all print readers, 44% go to newspapers first for information, and when they do go to websites 36% go to newspaper websites first. Yet while we have more than 61,000 print readers, hundreds of thousands of unique digital readers use us annually, and the vast majority are not our readers in print.
So very different groups need the same stories that only we report. Our average print reader is 60 years old, but the average website reader is about 35. In fact, we have more web readers under 25 than we have over 65.
And while print readers are only 28% female, 36% of our digital readers are women.
It’s not that our print-first readers aren’t digitally savvy: virtually 100% use smart phones, and their use of laptops, ipads, Kindles and tablets totals more than 100% because some use multiple devices. They use everything, but predominantly they still choose to read Miami Today in print, which runs counter to publicized trends.
Those trends to migrate from newspapers to other media for news were evident when we asked our own readers about their habits. While Miami Today gained in reader loyalty in print in this market, as did the New York Times, use of all other local media plunged, mostly by double digits.
Most notable was the Sun Sentinel in Broward, which was read by 12% of Miami Today readers three years ago. Today it’s zero. The New Times, which 30% of our readers saw three years ago, today reaches 3%. The Miami Herald fell from 77% to 68% and its Business Monday section fell from 40% to 21% in just three years. Even the Wall Street Journal fell from 28% to 20%.
Those declines probably aren’t related to political cries of “fake news.” Readers in our survey rated four local publications higher for the credibility of their business and civic news than they did three years ago, before the “fake news” claims began. Miami Today’s rating for high or very high credibility rose from 83% then to 89% now, by far the highest, but every newspaper gained in reputation, even those that lost overall audience.
Miami Today’s biggest image gain for quality came when we asked which of four local newspapers with business content was best at meeting the needs of small business. Three years ago Miami Today was rated highest by 45% of readers, but today it’s highest for 60%. That may be a factor in our surge in those associated with businesses with under $5 million in sales from 51% of our readers to 62% in three years (though some of these enterprising readers are also active in larger businesses). This points toward a renewed news focus on entrepreneurial efforts and startups.
Another indicator of societal change is a big shift in personal possessions. While our readers’ mean household income jumped almost $14,000, they also said they own fewer things and their buying plans have slimmed markedly.
In the case of fine jewelry, ownership fell from 64% of readers in three years to 58%, with plans for future buys down from 50% three years ago to 39% now. Antiques ownership fell from 59% to 50%, with buying plans falling from 34% to 20%. As dealers note, younger generations are buying less than their parents, and the parents already have what they want.
Yet in other cases ownership and buying plans are stronger. Condominium owners have grown from 41% of Miami Today readers three years ago to 43%, and reported future condo buying plans rose from 27% then to 31% today.
Miami Today is privileged to be able to report on these societal shifts in the nation’s most interesting community for news. In whatever form we present that news, we plan to keep it interesting, thorough and significant for our knowledgeable readers. Stay with us.