The Online Publishers Association has published the results of new research showing that the Web is clearly a “mass media”.

NEW YORK, NY – June 6, 2006 – The Online Publishers
Association (OPA) today announced the results of a new research
project, “A Day in the Life: An Ethnographic Study of Media
Consumption.” The observational media usage study is being discussed
throughout the OPA’s 2006 Eyes on the Internet Tour, which will visit
Atlanta, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Dallas,
and San Francisco.
The unprecedented observational research tracked the real-time
media use of 350 people, recording their actual activities every 15
seconds. The results show that the Web is now clearly a mass media –
ranking right alongside other major media when it comes to reach and
duration of use. And when it comes to at-work media use, the study
found that the Web clearly dominates (with 54.6% reach, compared to
television’s 21.1%), and is the only medium that ranks among the top
two at both work and home.

It would be reasonable to read this as but another marker on the
road of mainstream media disruption which is taking us to somewhat
unknown places. It would also be reasonable to note that this is US
research and that it’s a pity we do not have equivalent Australian
research. We’re insulated here. Our efficient newspaper distribution model
delivers higher newspaper and magazine penetration. I would expect
Australian research to show that while the web does not rival TV it is

The research reflects my personal experience. I get most of my news
online. The newspapers I read I read for perspective. The TV news I
watch I watch out of curiosity. The folks at The Guardian in the UK have decided to ride the wave rather than chase it as this report from Jeff Jarvis shows. The Guardian
has announced that it will publish stories online before it publishes
them in print. While they are not the first newspaper to do this, their
decision is gaining much attention and will lead more online for news. It will
help them navigate the future for their print edition in more proactive

From a newsagent perspective we need to be aware of these developments because things will move
faster here. While the US and UK are trail blazing and are a long way
in front, we are catching up fast. Both Fairfax and News are investing
heavily in their online news outlets and this will kick up the pace of
change for newsagents.

Unfortunately, too many newsagents and those who influence them
remain in denial about the impact of the internet and mobile technology
on newspaper and magazine sales. Our relevance is built around the
daily/weekly newspaper/magazine purchase habit. It will not be enough
to bring in other product. Newsagents need to bring in a habit based product
with a frequency approaching that of the newspaper and/or magazine
purchase. This is an extraordinary challenge for a disconnected, poorly
led and uninformed channel.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey