USC studies older people’s use of online news

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USC studies older people’s use of online news


13 February 2014

New University of the Sunshine Coast research aims to ensure older people stay connected with the news in a digital era.

USC Senior Lecturer Dr Renee Barnes, who leads USC’s Journalism Program, is seeking survey participants for her pilot study based on the Sunshine Coast region.

“I’ve received $10,000 in funding from the auDA Foundation to investigate how older Australians are engaging with online news,” said Dr Barnes, who has worked for media organisations including the ABC, The Age in Melbourne and Australian Associated Press.

The foundation is a charitable trust established by auDA (.au Domain Administration) to encourage educational and research activities to enhance the use of the Internet for the benefit of the Australian community.

Dr Barnes, of Sunrise Beach, said understanding how older adults engaged with online news was vital in the changing media landscape.

“On one hand we have news increasingly moving towards digital platforms, with more content being delivered solely online, but on the other hand we have Australia’s ageing population and the potential barriers they face,” she said.

“If journalists are to ensure public debate at all levels of the community and intergenerational access to the news, we need to make sure people of all ages are involved.”

The research will develop a set of principles for the journalism industry to use when presenting and distributing news online.

“It’s not just about how older people use computers or mobile devices but how do they feel in terms of finding news and interacting with news online?” she said.

Dr Barnes’s PhD explored participation on online news websites, in particular what motivated users to leave comments following news stories.

People aged aged 50 or older can participate online at

Hard copies of the survey are available at U3A (University of the Third Age), on the USC campus at Sippy Downs. The U3A is open weekday mornings.

The survey will close on 3 March.

Julie Schomberg

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