I stumbled across an interesting statistic the other day, one that made me go ‘That can’t be right.’ However I did some checking, and the figures are corroborated in several reports. Here we go. In 2012, only 23% of Americans had read a print newspaper the previous day. About 30% had read online. A mere 38% claimed to read a newspaper regularly, though this figure has dropped dramatically since 2004, when 54% claimed to be regular readers.

Television is feeling the pinch a bit too, particularly among the under 30s. Just 34% saw the news on television the previous day, and this is just about the same as the 33% who get their news from social networking sites. Now that’s a bit worrisome, isn’t it? Getting the news off Facebook would lead you to believe that aliens have abducted Jeb Bush, and I personally doubt the veracity of that story.

Things are marginally better in the UK, with 46% reading on a daily basis. Interestingly, Brits are the most enthusiastic readers if we judge by the length of time they spend reading a paper. About 70% read for more than 21 minutes a day, and 30% read for over 40 minutes. The runner up country was Norway, where the figures were about half those found in the UK.

Norway as a runner up surprised me a bit. I’d have had France as the world leader, let alone floundering behind Norway. Every café and bar you go in in France has racks of papers on those civilised wooden poles. Italy, I’d have thought that country would be in with a shout. You live and learn.

These figures do not augur well, do they? There are elections coming up in both the US, and before them the UK. I admit I tend to go into torpor when politicians come on screen, since all you get is relentless points scoring like PMQs. However, I do read the political news every day, without fail, often in several different papers. It amuses me to see how the papers spin things to suit their own agenda. But at least I know what they’re up to.

Also, if you don’t read the papers you deprive yourself of some of the gems of bizarre behaviour we humans are capable of, and I don’t mean the exploding cyclists on YouTube. A few days ago, a man called Christopher Miller was found guilty of second-degree robbery, whatever that is. He’ll be sentenced in May, and faces 10 to 20 years in the slammer. At least he’ll know what to expect, since he’d only just been released from a 15 year stretch for robbery. The really good bit is that for his recent offence he robbed the same shoeshop he got 15 years for robbing back in 1999. Even better, the store sales assistant in 2014 was the very self-same one he’d robbed in 1999. Restores your faith in human nature, doesn’t it?