New York debuted study dispels many beliefs about Internet, newspaper usage

Ball State Daily News

by Liz Mensching

Senior Jane Groff said she gets ready in the mornings with a news television station as background noise and accomplishes daily tasks with TLC or music channels playing.

She said television is her preferred media outlet because it’s convenient. Unlike Internet programs, there is minimal user involvement required to operate it, which makes it easier for Groff to multitask, she said.

A study conducted in part by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design confirmed Groff’s feelings about media usage and dispelled some other common beliefs.

Michael Holmes, associate director of insight and research professor of communication studies, said the Video Consumer Mapping report was “the largest study of its kind ever done.”

The center teamed up with Sequent Partners on behalf of the Nielsen Council for Research Excellence during 952 days of observation to determine what kind of media is being consumed and how often.

The study found that consumers ranging from age 45-54 consume the most media on a daily basis, at about 9 and a half hours, according to the press release.

Holmes said this finding was unexpected but is probably because people in this category are watching television and are older age groups and engaging in new media like younger generations.

Additional findings state that residential televisions still attract the largest audience from all age groups, which contradicts a common belief that Internet video and videos on mobile devices were competing with TV use.

The study cost $3.5 million and spanned six major cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis and Dallas.

The study tracked 470 participants in their natural environment by trained observers, who recorded information via a Smart Keyboard, a program developed by Ball State.

Research programming supervisor Wesley Withers worked to develop the data collection service and wrote the software for the program.

He said the team worked hard to translate their work onto a much larger scale.

“We didn’t have everyone under our umbrella at Ball State,” Withers said.

Holmes said the biggest challenge for the team was distilling the large amount of information and processing it into something manageable.

“The study provides a comprehensive look at the current state of media in the country,” Holmes said. “Our ability to execute such a large study enhances Ball State’s image in media studies.”

Researchers at Ball State are planning to disperse the information through on-campus presentations and course lectures, Holmes said.

“It’s an advantage to students that they are receiving the information at the same time the industry is,” he said.

The complete report will be posted on the Council for Research Excellence’s Web site at researchexcellence.com during the second week of April.

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