Analysing media consumption: what’s on your news diet?

In this expanding news ecosystem, we all tend to develop our own media consumption patterns and compose individualised news repertoires, or diets. People develop news diets based on their own preferences and needs. News diets are therefore very personal and vary greatly. However, further analysis reveals similar patterns and choices. Based on interviews with 36 media consumers, a Q-sort technique and factor analysis, we were able to map seven profiles underlying news repertoires in Flanders.

Two critical criteria were used to identify news diets. First, does one prefer short news notifications (fast food) or satisfies one his/her appetite with in-depth analysis (slow food)? Second, does one prefer online channels, or stays one loyal to offline media?

Profile 1: Quality-seeking traditionalist

Clearly prefers quality news. Consumes news only via traditional media such as the newspaper and TV news. Has a need to be informed, but does not feel like a news junk.

Profile 2: Quality-seeking cosmopolitan

Has a strong desire to be informed about what is happening all over the world. Interested in high-quality news, including background, analysis and comments. Favours quality newspapers and public service channels, both online and offline.

Profile 3: Up-to-dater

Stays up to date all day through, especially via newspaper websites and the radio. Also captures news updates via shared social media messages, in most cases Facebook. Does not consider Twitter to be a trustworthy source of news.

Profile 4: Traditional nosher

Prefers short news updates, most consumed via traditional channels such as text TV, popular newspapers and current affair programmes. However, newsletters with click-through headlines are the primary source of news.

Profile 5: Digital omnivore

Combines quick updates with more comprehensive, in-depth coverage. Mainly relies on born-online, alternative players such as and the Huffington Post, but also trusted traditional news brands and

Profile 6: Sports freak

Is a genuine sports fan and needs to know the latest figures as soon as possible. Stays updated via a fascinating mix of traditional and online channels. Twitter is of utmost importance, but popular newspapers and text TV are crucial too.

Profile 7: Freebie

Wants the news to be free; shows no willingness to pay. Online or offline makes no difference, as long as the news is freely available. Has an atypical news diet and consumes via online video platforms, free newspapers and search engines.


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News diet

© Kristin Van Damme is currently working on a PhD on news consumption