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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Poynter Releases Major Research Findings on News Consumption on Tablets

A Poynter research project co-funded by CCI reveals a direct connection between storytelling form on tablets and reader engagement.

The Poynter Institute, one of the world’s top schools for professional journalists and news media leaders and a CCI partner, has released major findings from an eyetracking and survey-based research project on how people read news on tablet devices.

The research shows that the way readers select a story has a direct influence on whether or not they will read the whole story.

Says Poynter faculty member, Sara Quinn, on, “It’s fascinating to see patterns emerge as we watch the people read. We’re able to establish an average number of touch interactions, the number of elements looked at before making a story selection and the average amount of time someone reads before they decide to bail out. These things are enormously helpful to the process of editing and design.”

The research project included an analysis of how 36 test participants interacted with real news stories on an iPad. The test subjects were recruited among people in two distinct age sets: the 18-28 year-old ‘digital natives’ and the 45-55 year-old ‘printnets’ who have one foot in the print world and one foot in the ‘’Net’ world.

Among the findings in the research project are:

• The typical ‘bail out point’ is at about 78 seconds of reading. At this point, the reader either commits to reading the whole story or stops reading. According to the researchers, this would be the obvious point in the story to place an element engaging the reader further (a question, a pullout quote, an informative visual element, etc.)
• Younger readers tend to scan more than older readers when searching for what to read, and scanning readers actually tend to read a little longer than readers who are more methodical in their search. This seems to be in direct contrast to the common perception that younger readers have less attention and do not care to read.
• Test participants looked at an average of 18 editorial elements before choosing their first story. The more individual content items they looked at, the more likely they were to read a selected story to the end. At upcoming training events at Poynter, these and other findings will be further explored.

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