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Effects of a Magazine’s Move to Online-only: Post-print Audience Attention and Readership Retention Revisited

Thurman, N. & Fletcher, R. (2019). Effects of a Magazine’s Move to Online-only: Post-print Audience Attention and Readership Retention Revisited. Journalism Practice, doi: 10.1080/17512786.2019.1685903


For financial reasons, newspapers and magazines are increasingly going online-only. By doing so, some have returned to profitability, but with what consequences for their audiences? To expand the scant evidence base, we conducted a case study of the UK’s New Musical Express (NME) magazine. By analyzing quantitative audience data from official industry sources, we estimate total time spent with the NME by its British audience fell dramatically post-print—by 72%. This fall mirrors that suffered by The Independent newspaper, which went online-only two years earlier. We also report that the NME’s official net weekly and monthly readership increased post-print, although these results are difficult to compare with The Independent’s because the two titles differed in their print publication frequencies. We conclude that the attention periodicals attract via their print editions is unlikely to immediately transfer to their online editions should they go online-only. Building a fuller theory of print platform cessation, however—one that also encompasses changes in readership/reach—requires more comparable data. This case study provides further evidence to suggest that though, for newspapers and magazines, a post-print existence may be less costly, it is also more constrained, with much of the attention they formerly enjoyed simply stripped away.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: Audience; magazines; media displacement; newspapers; online-only; readership; time spent; uses and gratifications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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