A weekend offline highlights 3 key differences between analogue and digital news consumption

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 26 August 2010

Whilst I was at the Green Man Festival at the weekend, I couldn't get any data signal on my phone, and so was completely off the net. It changed my news consumption behaviour, and made me think about 3 very sharp differences between analogue and Internet-enabled news delivery.

On Sunday morning, for example, the only way I could get the previous day's Championship & League One scores was by purchasing The Observer, which was on sale from a joint Guardian/Observer stall at the event. If one single person had thought to display a chalkboard with the scores up within the grounds of the festival, my principle reason for purchasing the paper would have disappeared.

On the Internet, there is always someone with the chalkboard repeating for free the news you would otherwise have to pay for.

Of course, having brought the paper, I then read much more than just the results page of the sports section. Which meant reading stories I didn't know I was interested in, and being exposed to the serendipity of what went into that day's layout and editorial selection. And more advertising.

On the Internet, you never have to read the other stories bundled with the thing that initially interested you.

My copy of The Observer that day wasn't only read by me, but our group of friends shared it socially over breakfast. The print industry has traditionally extrapolated 'reach' from raw circulation, on the basis that copies of papers are shared around. Of course, any extrapolation is subject to a margin of error.

On the Internet, you can measure who has shared what with whom.

Keep up to date on my new blog