It’s one of the markers for the massive change in news. There used to be a news cycle. Communicators would time the release of major announcements to either maximize or avoid the normal patterns established by major outlets–such as a 4:30 to 5 pm deadline for hitting the 6 pm news. The Internet, changes in broadcast technology plus the emergence of 24 hour cable news all resulted in a 24 hour news cycle. News was broadcast when it happened, not when it could be packaged for an audience that would show up like clockwork.
Just when we got used to that, we see evidence of a new news cycle emerging. Tablet computers are proving to be a major device for news consumers, and as much recent research has shown, it is changing how people consume news and the depth with which they consume it.
But, as this report from Nieman Lab about comScore research shows, tablet use closely resembles how we used to read newspapers. The graph shows news consuming patterns similar to when we used to get a morning or evening newspaper or listen to drive time radio. Stronger first thing in the morning, then in the evening around 6 pm.
The study shows the difference in news viewing on computers, tablets and smartphones. Computers are used more during working hours, tablets used more in morning and evening with a pretty big dip during the working hours, and phones used off and on throughout the day.
As tablets grow in use and become an even more important tool in news consumption, that dip becomes more significant. Sunday is also a day when tablet use is particularly heavy. Which all goes to say that newspapers were right to put emphasis on the Sunday edition and news networks were right to put their big news shows at 6 and 11 pm. The newest devices are bringing us back to the future.