Will Online News Kill Print? Not So Fast, Say Seniors

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 06/01/2013

Most Seniors Online—But Fewer to Read News. The Cagneys don’t own or use a computer, which puts them in a minority among those 65 and older in the United States. Last year, the Pew Research Center for the Internet and American Life announced that for the first time a majority of seniors (53 percent) use e-mail or the Internet. But a previous Pew survey revealed that most of the older set doesn’t get news from any online source.


Optimistic about the economic viability of professional journalism, though, Carroll said, “Fingers crossed, say a prayer, it will sort itself out.”
Still, Carroll worries that the rise of cable news and the multiplicity of sources online means that people can cherry pick the evidence to suit their argument, a development he feels undermines the national conversation.

“TV is a big trap for seniors, particularly male seniors,” said Pat McGivern. “My friends in the Midwest are more liberal, but my friends in New York-- some of them listen to the guys who rant and rave.” She added that a member of her family believes that NPR is under the control of communists.

Newspapers’ ‘Serendipitous Aspect’


Carroll said he “surfs the headlines” online. “Every now and then I look at Politico,” he said. But he believes that looking through a newspaper yields better results. “The serendipitous aspect,” he said. “That’s lost [online].

“I’ve got to have a newspaper in my hands. But that’s because I’m old,” Carroll said, with a laugh. His friend Francis X. Clines, a member of the Times editorial board, told him that he’s typically the only person in the elevator at work with the newspaper under his arm. “None of the kids have it,” he said.

For some seniors, it is more than a case of what they’re used to; it’s what they like.

“I love the feel of the paper,” said Bridget Cagney, who sets aside time to read at the end of the day. “I get a great sense of warmth when I look at headlines in [the Hudson News stand] Grand Central.”

Cagney emphasized, “I can’t imagine giving up the paper. I deplore the day that we have to.”