Catchy Headlines The Biggest Draw For News Article Readers

September 28, 2012

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Local & Directories / Small Biz | Men | Mobile Phone | Radio | Television | Women | Youth & Gen X

Visually-focused content may be on the rise, but a catchy headline is still the biggest factor enticing Americans to read an online or print news article, according to new research released in September. Harris Interactive asked more than 2,000 adults what factors would make them more likely to read an article, with a catchy headline (54%) coming out on top, beating an interesting picture with the article (44%) and interesting data or research which supports the article (43%).

There was some variety in the responses by age and gender. For example, while those top 3 factors maintained their order among Echo Boomers (18-35), Gen Xers (36-47), and Baby Boomers (48-66), interesting supporting data or research took top billing among Matures (67+), ahead of catchy headlines and interesting pictures (55% vs. 52% for each of the latter).

Looking at the gender breakdown, catchy headlines are more likely to lure women than men (58% vs. 50%), while interesting data or research proves more appealing to men (47% vs. 40%), and in fact is more likely to draw men than an interesting picture (43%).

Infographics More Appealing to News Junkies

Despite the proliferation of infographics, overall, just 28% of the adults surveyed said that an interesting infographic would make them more likely to read an article, with this result relatively consistent across age and gender.

There was more variety in response when segmenting by news interest. Self-described news “junkies” – for whom news is a favorite leisure time activity – are far more likely than the average to say that an interesting infographic will pique their interest in an article (40% vs. 28%). By comparison, infographics appeal to 29% of people who have a moderate interest in the news, and just 17% who aren’t interested in the news.

News junkies are also more likely than the average to be influenced by the author of the article and interesting data or research supporting the article. Somewhat surprisingly given their affinity for infographics, they are far less likely than average to be drawn to an article by an interesting accompanying picture.

News junkies account for 13% of the survey sample. Another 69% like to keep up with the news, but say it’s just one of many ways that they spend their leisure time. The remaining 18% are not really interested in the news, preferring to spend their leisure time with other activities.

TV Still the Preferred Source of News

TV still rules as the top way for Americans to get the news, according to the study. Half of the respondents (including 59% of Baby Boomers and 60% of Matures) said that TV was their preferred medium, and TV also took top billing among news junkies (47%).

Even so, online channels are also strong, taking the top spot among Echo Boomers over TV (55% vs. 34%). In fact, among those Echo Boomers, more said they preferred to get their news on a mobile device than in print (7% vs. 5%).

A study released in September by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that 55% of respondents got their news “yesterday” from watching TV, while online/mobile news (39%) beat out radio (33%) and the newspaper (29%).

Other Findings:

  • According to the Harris Interactive survey, males are far more likely to be news junkies than females (17% vs. 9%).
  • Asked to best describe how they typically read the news, whether online or in print, a plurality of respondents (34%) said they normally just read the headlines, but maybe 1 or 2 stories in full. One-quarter said they skim the full article.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between August 13 and 20, 2012 among 2,307 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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