Grasping the Digital News User: Conceptual and methodological advances in news use studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, people’s news consumption has become increasingly fragmented over different devices, news sources and, especially with the advent of mobile technologies, different situational contexts. This renders a growing part of our (news) media consumption very volatile, even transparent. Journalism scholars are compelled to expand the existing methodological toolset at their disposal if they hope to grasp news audiences’ changing practices. This article investigates the lines along which such a toolset should be conceived. As the digitisation of media and journalism challenges our understanding of news audiences, the article opens by paying considerable attention to the conceptual underpinning of news audiences by revisiting the notion of audience activity in the light of evolving news use practices. This reflection results in an integrated conceptualisation of the term “audience activity”, which in turn makes out a case for adopting “news users” as a more versatile concept to denote people engaging with news. Subsequently, this article addresses how such a more encompassing notion of news users can shape new topical and methodological directions in news audience studies. The article concludes by exploring the current advancements in modular online time use surveys as an illustration of a data-gathering method combining traditional techniques with digital tools to study news users as they cross different devices, platforms, sources and contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-141
Number of pages17
JournalDigital Journalism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016


  • audience activity
  • research methods
  • news users
  • news audiences
  • methodological innovation
  • digital journalism


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