Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Web Complements, Not Replaces, Traditional Media

A new study conducted by The Canadian Internet Project (CIP) has found that the Web supplements traditional media rather than replaces it. Working for both print and Web publications, I'd be lying if I said this study wasn't a positive one from both a personal and an information perspective.

"Conventional wisdom would suggest that Internet use has increased at the expense of traditional media," explains Charles Zamaria, Professor at Ryerson University and Principal Investigator and Project Director of CIP. "But the amount of time spent attending to conventional media by Internet users and non-users is virtually identical.

"We found," he adds, "that Internet users are not finding time to be online by taking away from their traditional media diet. In many ways. media activity just begets more media activity."

It's not surprisingly, however, that people aged 12-17 (of which 400 were interviewed) spend about 15% less time with traditional media than adults. Still, it's promising numbers for anyone in the TV, radio, magazine, or book publishing industry. At the same time, the numbers related to the Y-generation users indicate that anyone who isn't seriously looking at the Web to complement your current strategy should do so in order to keep up.

The survey, which was conducted with more than 3,100 Canadians, also discovered that Internet penetration overall increased by 6% to reach 78% of Canadians in 2007. We're also spending more time online: 17 hours a week vs. just 13 in 2004. Of those aged 12-17, a whopping 96% are online; and more than 50% of those aged 60 and older are as well. But what's most interesting is that the 60+ group isn't just checking e-mail and basic Web pages: they're engaging in "hip" activities like social networking and photo uploading!

Another interesting finding: there's a significant, 15% gap between English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking residents, with the former online more frequently. Is there a need for more French-language Websites? It's an interesting question that I've never really made an observation about.

Personally, I find that I read paperback books almost as often as I read news on the 'net. The same goes for TV, and occassionally magazines. So even in my own personal experiences, I can see how new forms of media like the Internet just complement activities that have already become commonplace.

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