In the world

Digital News Report 2022 // Key aspects of online media market’s present and future

How the behavior of media consumers changes, what their preferences are, and what newsrooms should focus on to remain competitive in the market – these are some of the topics of the Digital News Report (DNR) 2022, a study published by the Reuters Institute. Nick Newman, one of the authors, listed for Journalism.co.uk the main findings of the study carried out among digital media in 46 countries around the world.

AVOIDING NEWS AS A TREND

In the UK, almost half of respondents (46%) say they often or sometimes avoid news, which is almost double the number in 2017 (24%), the report says. This trend can also be explained by the fact that there is increasingly more news about the war, the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic, which are still ongoing.

A following survey in April (on the Ukraine war) showed that news avoidance increased much more in countries close to the conflict, such as Poland and Germany, while in the UK the situation remained relatively unchanged.

According to Newman, the choice of serious and complex topics and the way they are often covered by the media does not allow readers to feel informed while affecting their mood in a negative way. “People also feel powerless in the face of these huge and complex global challenges because they cannot do anything about them. Therefore, some just stop [consuming media], because there is always something more interesting to find in a mobile phone,” Nick Newman says.

ON TRUST IN THE MEDIA

In 2015, the UK was among the countries with the highest levels of trust in news (51%), before the Brexit referendum dealt a blow in this regard. Newman argues that the media are accused of bringing “bad news” and reflect the broader disagreements that exist in society, politics and culture.

Thus, after last year’s coronavirus pandemic (when the public was looking for reliable news on an issue that affected them directly), trust dropped to 34%. We may find a vivid example of this in BBC News which has lost 20 percentage points over the past five years, from 75% to 55%.

Newman argues that the media need to work to win back an audience that no longer trusts the press.

SUBSCRIPTIONS AND THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS

Along with the war in Ukraine, there has been a new increase in subscriptions to some media. For instance, The Telegraph has over 500,000 online subscribers, followed by The Times and the Sunday Times with around 400,000. The Guardian and Financial Times recently reached one million online subscribers.

However, only 9% of people pay for online news in the UK, which is an increase from last year’s 8%, but still very little compared to the market average (17%) and the US (19%).

In the context of the cost-of-living crisis, several newsrooms have expressed concern that their subscriptions will be cut as readers start to save money. Editorials will have to work harder to convince readers to keep their subscriptions. “I don’t think we’re overestimating the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. I think this is going to be a really big issue for media companies in the next few years,” said the co-author of the study.

SOCIAL NETWORKS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR GEN Z AUDIENCE

Researchers say Gen Z audiences (born between 1995 and 2010) are far more skeptical than previous generations about the news they read. “This young generation is different from the previous ones. They define news differently, they are less interested in traditional topics like politics, and they are more influenced by the social aspect of the news,” Newman says.

Thus, more than a third (39%) of young people aged 18-24 in the UK say that social networks are now their main source of information. This group is less likely to want to access news sites or apps. Newsrooms cannot rely on being known to younger audiences and need to work harder to identify and capture the attention of this group.

The data also shows that Facebook is losing its popularity while TikTok continues to be used more and more for both general purposes and for news – 40% of people under 25 watch TikTok, including 15% who use it to stay informed. The data reflects the situation at the global level.

BBC News arriving on TikTok is a sign that newsrooms cannot ignore the platform as young audiences seek authentic news.

PODCAST POPULARITY

Podcasting has made a comeback in popularity since its pandemic-time dwindle (which could be attributed to reduced travels to and from work). In the UK, 25% of respondents listen to podcasts every month, up 3 percentage points from the previous year.

For instance, Spotify has overtaken BBC Sounds as the most widely used podcasting platform in the UK with 30% of podcast users.

Researchers note that platforms, such as Spotify and others, have their own subscription levels, and newsrooms need to think about their priorities when it comes to revenue, audience acquisition and more, in the context of competitiveness.

VIDEOS NO MORE ON TOP

In 2022, it will come as a surprise to some that videos are lagging behind text as a means of consuming media content. In the UK, 71% of viewers prefer to read news, compared to 6% who prefer to watch videos.

This trend is observed in most markets, although there are countries in which the balance is skewed towards the video format: the Philippines (26%), Mexico and Peru (24%).

At the same time, text as a means of consuming media content is preferred by all age groups, and not only by older people. “This goes against the narrative that young people just watch TikTok all day. In fact, the reason is that they prefer the control [offered by text]. It’s about the speed of moving back and forth to quickly access the information they want,” Newman explained.

Newman’s advice is: “Don’t give up on text, because it’s the basic thing. But text also has limitations. With videos, people appreciate the connection and the opportunity to see the events and the emotions that arise.”

THE PROBLEM OF DISINFORMATION REMAINS

The pandemic has also brought concerns about what is real and what is fake online, and this situation has not improved. Respondents who say they mainly use social media as a source of news are more concerned (61%) than those who do not (48%).

According to researchers, Facebook and TikTok are not the only major sources of false information. There are also smaller platforms, such as Telegram, dealing with this growing problem without, however, having the same resources to stop it.

Show More

💬 ...

Back to top button