Vol. 8 No.2 (2023)

Online newspaper reading patterns of a university community before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: the case of the University of Venda

Maropene Thomas Ramabina
North West University (NWU), South Africa

Lynn Kleinveldt
University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, Canada


Rationale of Study – For years, academics have been concerned with the quality of assignments, particularly at the undergraduate level, due to low reading cultures among students. However, the reading culture of university staff members also needs to be considered, as well as how it can influence students to read for leisure, remain informed about various aspects, and incorporate it into their academic writing. This study explored the reading culture in university communities that access and read online newspapers through the PressReader Database before and during the COVID-19 pandemic at the University of Venda (UNIVEN).

Methodology – A quantitative approach was conducted using descriptive analysis of PressReader usage statistics for online newspapers. PressReader usage statistics were used in the data collection process and analysed using EXCEL to investigate the reading culture and identify the online newspaper most consulted by UNIVEN users from UNIVEN before and during COVID-19.

Findings – The study findings revealed that the use of online newspapers decreased during the pandemic and showed that Sunday Times (3047 views), Sowetan (1559 views), Mail and Guardian (1261 views) and Business Day (1131 views) were the most famous newspapers between July 2018 and July 2021 at UNIVEN. This usage was moderate, and libraries must create awareness of the existence of online newspapers and provide a digital infrastructure for users to access and read these newspapers.

Implications – The findings of this study can be valuable to media organisations, helping them adapt their content and delivery methods to meet changing needs.

Originality – This original study was conducted at UNIVEN in Limpopo province, South Africa.


Academic libraries, Internet, COVID-19 pandemic, user preferences, media consumption