Disturbing reports about the pandemic and now the Russian invasion of Ukraine have led increasing numbers of people to avoid the news. This is a conclusion of the annual report of the Reuters Institute Digital reporting. “The need for reliable information, careful context and thoughtful debate has rarely been greater, but so has the desire for stories that inspire and give hope for a better future. “
“While some individual news outlets have clearly had success in building online reach or convincing people to subscribe, and have developed new offerings through podcasts, videos and newsletters, this year’s data shows that many publishers are still struggling to come to terms with the structural changes that have plagued the industry for more than a decade,” the report concludes.
“These challenges are compounded by the frayed connection that journalism and the news media have with large parts of the public in many countries. More people are disconnected, interest in news is declining, selective avoidance rising news and confidence
far from certain. »
“The Ukraine crisis, and before it the COVID-19 pandemic, have reminded people of the value of accurate and fair reporting that comes as close to the truth as possible, but we also find evidence that the overwhelming and depressing nature of news , feelings of helplessness and toxic online debates turn many people off – temporarily or permanently.
“While many publishers had a relatively good year with rising revenues, future growth will likely be tested by the combined impact of inflation and rising energy prices, which will squeeze household budgets currently spent on news media, but also potentially advertising revenue.”
“We are also seeing news fatigue setting in – not just around COVID-19 but around politics and a range of other topics – with the number of people actively avoiding the news increasing dramatically.”
The report says a clear trend is to change the habits of younger groups, especially those under 30, whom news outlets often struggle to reach. The report is based on data from six continents and 46 markets.
- Trust in the news fell in almost half of the countries surveyed and rose in only seven, partially reversing the gains made at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. On average, around four in ten of the total sample (42%) say they trust most information most of the time. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%), while trust in the media in the United States has fallen another three percentage points and remains the lowest (26%) in our survey. .
- Consumption of traditional media, such as TV and print, declined again last year in almost all markets (before the invasion of Ukraine), with online and social consumption not closing the gap . While the majority remain highly engaged, others are turning away from the news media and, in some cases, disconnecting from the news altogether. Interest in news has fallen sharply across all markets, from 63% in 2017 to 51% in 2022.
- At the same time, the proportion of news consumers who say they avoid news often or sometimes has risen sharply in all countries. This kind of selective avoidance has doubled in Brazil (54%) and the UK (46%) over the past five years, with many respondents saying the news has a negative effect on their mood. A significant proportion of younger, less-educated people say they avoid the news because it can be hard to follow or understand – suggesting that the news media could do a lot more to simplify language and better explain or contextualize stories. complex stories.
- In the five countries studied after the war in Ukraine had started, television news is the most used – the countries closest to the fighting, such as Germany and Poland, registering the largest increases in consumption. Selective news avoidance increased further, likely due to the difficult and depressing nature of the coverage.
- Global concerns about false and misleading information remain stable this year, ranging from 72% in Kenya and Nigeria to just 32% in Germany and 31% in Austria. People say they’ve seen more fake news about coronavirus than politics in most countries, but the situation is reversed in Turkey, Kenya and the Philippines, among others.
- Despite increases in the proportion of people paying for news online in a small number of wealthier countries (Australia, Germany and Sweden), there are signs that overall growth may be leveling off. Out of a basket of 20 countries where payment is widespread, 17% paid for any information online, the same figure as last year. Convincing young people to pay remains a crucial issue for the industry, with the average age of a subscriber to digital news being close to 50 years old.
- A large portion of digital subscriptions goes to a few large national brands, which reinforces the the winner takes the most dynamic. But in the United States and Australia, we now see the majority of those who pay subscribe more than one subscription. This reflects the increased offering of differentiated paid news products in areas such as political opinion, local news and a range of specific niches – raising hopes that more people will eventually pay for multiple titles.
- But in the face of rapidly rising household bills, some respondents are rethinking how many media subscriptions they can afford this year – which include news, TV, music and books. While most say they expect to maintain the same number of media subscriptions, others say they expect to gain less ofas they seek to save money on non-essential items.
- With first-party data collection becoming increasingly important to publishers with the impending demise of third-party cookies, most consumers are still hesitant to register their email address with news sites. Only around a third (32%) say they trust news websites to use their personal data responsibly – comparable to online retailers like Amazon – and the figure is even lower in the US (18%) and in France (19%).
- Access to news continues to be increasingly distributed. Across all markets, less than a quarter (23%) prefer to start their news journey with a website or app, down nine points since 2018. 18-24 year olds have an even weaker connection with websites and apps, preferring to access news through parallel channels such as social media, search and mobile aggregators.
- Facebook remains the most used social network for news, but users are more likely to say they see too much news in their flow relative to other networks. While older groups remain loyal to the platform, the younger generation has shifted much of their attention to more visual networks over the past three years.
- TikTok became the fastest growing network in this year’s survey, reaching 40% of 18-24 year olds, with 15% using the platform for news. Usage is much higher in parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa than in the United States or Northern Europe. Telegram has also seen significant growth in some markets, providing a flexible alternative to Meta-owned WhatsApp.
- While social media has raised the profile of many digital journalists, the most well-known journalists are still television presenters and presenters in most countries. When asked to name journalists they pay attention to, few can name foreign correspondents, while newspaper columnists are better known in the UK and Finland than in Brazil, the US or Finland. France.
- The smartphone has become the dominant means by which most people first access morning news, although there are different trends in different countries. In Norway, Spain, Finland and the United Kingdom, the smartphone is now accessible first before television, while radio retains an important role in Ireland. Reading the morning paper is still popular in the Netherlands; television still dominates in Japan.
- After last year’s slowdown partly caused by movement restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, podcast growth appears to have resumed, with 34% consuming one or more podcasts in the past month. Spotify continues to gain ground over Apple and Google Podcasts in a number of countries and YouTube is also benefiting from the popularity of video and hybrid podcasts.