Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) has published its annual Digital News Report incorporating global digital trend data from 46 countries. We reviewed the report and came up with 5 takeaways we found most interesting.
Globally, those avoiding the news has almost doubled since 2017 to 46%. Polarising global events have had a huge impact on the trust in digital news. The UK saw one of the highest levels of trust in the media in 2015 (51%) but since the Brexit referendum this trust has declined by 8%. This was until the covid-19 pandemic struck, when trust grew 8% in 2021 from its lowest (28%) in 2020, as the need for trustworthy, valuable journalism gained traction. However, with the current cascade of doom-laden news and the longstanding coverage of covid-19, audiences have been feeling news fatigue. Participants reported news as having a negative effect on their mood, making them feel powerless and enforcing political biases.
Social Media wins over Gen Z for News
Gen Z is significantly less likely to use a news app or website compared to older generations. 39% of the 18-24 cohort stated that social media is their main source of news. TikTok’s rise could be a development to watch as it challenges Facebook’s dominance for news on social media. The growing popularity of TikTok among under 25s is evident with general usage in this cohort rising to 40% and global figures showing 15% of this usage is for news. Despite TV and print both declining in the past year, social media hasn’t filled this gap, suggesting people are disconnecting all together.
The Podcast Competition
At the beginning of the pandemic podcast engagement was in decline. However, podcasts are now rising again, with 25% of the UK tuning in monthly, a rise of 3% since 2021. Spotify has overtaken BBC Sounds as the UK’s most used podcast platform, attracting 30% of podcast listeners. YouTube has helped to bring podcasts to a visual platform, as well as increasing its publisher focus on podcasting.
Video still lagging behind
The Digital News Report found text continues to be the leading format for news amongst all age groups. Audiences still favour text to quickly skim vital information over watching a video, a trend consistent across the vast majority of markets. On average, 71% of people were found to prefer to read the news, in comparison to only 6% preferring video.
The fight to hold onto subscribers
The UK digital news market underperforms when it comes to news subscriptions, with only 9% of consumers using a paid subscription, against a global average of 17%. The average age of a digital subscriber is almost 50 years old and only 8% of news subscribers in the UK are under the age of 30, highlighting the challenges that news brands have in attracting younger audiences to their digital offer.
In a world that feels increasingly complex and confusing, audiences need news to make sense of today’s issues. The focus of news brands needs to be on regaining the trust of its audiences by proving reliable and digestible information, but with younger audiences’ tastes and behaviour evolving so dramatically from previous generations, there are undoubtedly challenges still to overcome.
Title image source: Reuters Institute