Using eye-tracking software to measure how people consume news stories on different devices - computers, tablets, and smartphones -, researchers found smartphone users spent the least amount of time looking at articles and paying attention to additional links.
Johanna Dunaway of Texas A&M University explains, "Eye-tracking measures attention and cognitive processes; humans are not good at self-reporting where they direct attention. So this allowed us to have a simple measure of how much time people spent looking at the body of the story." Dunaway says the findings suggest citizens who rely on mobile news alone will be less informed and less engaged citizens. Read more about her paper at the site of Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
News outlets care a great deal about how people consume news and in what "spaces." Gabriel Kahn, professor in the journalism school at USC, says news executives are having to pay more attention to where news engagement is taking place. "That's why we see, for instance, more news videos on Facebook complete with the text of the story in subtitles." The caution is that Silicon Valley innovators are driving the future of journalism, without any allegiance to it.
Does this track with how you consume news? How could content or technology be changed to account for this risk of a “second-class digital” citizenry?
Johanna Dunaway, Associate Professor of Communication, Texas A&M University; Study author, “Mobile vs. Computer: Implications for News Audiences and Outlets”
Gabriel Kahn, Professor of Professional Practice of Journalism, University of Southern California; Co-director of the Media, Economics, and Entrepreneurship program, USC