Sunday, April 01, 2007

Web news readers have greater attention span

The Poynter Institute (US based), did some research about reading online and offline and the study involved nearly 600 US readers. Two small cameras were mounted above the subject's right eye to monitor what they were reading. Some of the outcomes are contrary to the insights from other studies so far.

They only real surprising fact for me was that they found that online readers read 77 percent of what they chose to read while broadsheet newspaper readers read an average of 62 percent, and tabloid readers about 57 percent.

Some outcomes that match with the current understanding:

The study also found that people paid more attention to items written in a question and answer format or as lists, and preferred documentary news photographs to staged or studio pictures.

Quinn said a prototype test also found that people answered more questions about a news item correctly if the information had been presented in an alternative manner rather than traditional narrative. This could have been a question and answer format, a timeline, short sidebar or a list. "Subjects paid an average of 15 percent more attention to alternative story forms than to regular story text in print. In broadsheet, this figure rose to 30 percent," the study said.

This stress the fact that we have to focus on a different representation of information. In a more visual and triggering (and emotional?) way.

The report will come out in April. More info can be found at Reuters.

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