Monday, September 26, 2005

Middletown media

The residents of Middletown, USA., aka Muncie, Ind., are being poked and prodded again as researchers study their media use. Ball State University is out with its latest report today from its Center for Media Design. (To be fair, some of the 394 adults followed around for a day were from Indianapolis.)

The finding making the headlines is that out of our 1,440-minute day, slightly more than half of it involves some kind of media use, not surprising given the media-saturation level we've achieved.

Another finding getting some ink -- no surprise -- is that 63 prcent read books, magazines and newspapers, sometimes during work and for a total of 33 minutes a day. But that's really not any comfort for beleaguered newspapers, because when the figures are broken down, less than 40 percent specifically read newspapers, and then for only about 15 minutes per day.

Television remains the dominant medium, and more often it is in conjunction with the Web. The TV-Web multitasking number is about 25 percent, and people were observed combining the two about 25 minutes per day. In fact, the study says, for 30 percent of the day we use two or more mediums at the same time. (This is why my younger son says he would rather IM than get on the phone -- When you IM, he says, you can have multiple conversations without having to concentrate too much, and you can leave the TV on.)

Behind the TV, the computer is now second in overall media use when measured in time -- about 130 minutes a day.

I found oen other thing from the PowerPoint to be interesting: 18-39 woman seem to be more Web-centric than their male counterparts. While men of the same age were predominant in using software, women came out on top when it came to using the Web (average about 80 minutes a day compared with about 65 for men) and e-mail (about 60 minutes compared with about 45 percent for males).

In fact, women dominated e-mail, period. Women 40+ used it almost as much as their younger counterparts, while men 40+ used it even less than those 18-39. It would be interesting to know if this is augmenting or substituting for the phone or more personal contact, or if it gives women a new way to keep up with far-flung friends and relatives.

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