News consumption in a digital world | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 16.06.2016
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News consumption in a digital world

Trust in news is highest in Finland and lowest in Greece, a new report on digital news consumption by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism finds. And news via social media is all the rage.

More than half of the 50,000 online news consumers interviewed in 26 countries - including the US and the UK - say they use social media as a source of news each week.

According to the survey, social media are particularly important for women and younger consumers.

44 percent of the respondents say they use Facebook for news, and that, according to the study, represents two-thirds of all Facebook users. Twitter is also an important social network for news, "favored by journalists, politicians, and heavy news users."

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism 2016 report on digital news consumption is based on a survey conducted by YouGov.

The report shows publishers worldwide face "unprecedented levels of disruption" to their formats due to "the rise of social platforms, the move to mobile devices and growing consumer rejection of online advertising."

At the expense of print

Readership of printed newspapers and magazines has declined significantly, the report found. But turning to TV for news is also declining, according to the findings, and mainly still important for older age groups and in Europe "with its tradition of strong public service broadcasters."

TV is still the go-to media in Germany for news, for instance, but even here, the report's authors note "a significant increase in social media and access via mobile devices."

German TV News Copyright:picture-alliance/dpa

German media use is among the most traditional in Europe

At 53 percent, overall smartphone usage for news is sharply up in the 2016 survey.

Computer use has slumped, and tablet growth is stagnating, the report says. With a look at demographics, it's the younger generation that has a strong preference for smartphones, while older users turn to tablets and computers. Amost one out of five people interviewed who use a smartphone as a main device say they check the news more than five times a day.

The study also found that most consumers are reluctant to pay for general news online; in particular, in the English-speaking world.

News videos with a hitch

A surprise, the report's authors said, was that online news video appears to be growing more slowly than expected. Across all 26 countries, only 24 percent say they access online news video in a given week.

Three-quarters of respondents say they rely on text instead: reading news is quicker and more convenient, 41 percent argue while 35 percent want to avoid annoying pre-roll advertising.

The study found that brands with a strong news heritage that have built a reputation over many years are still a main source of information.

And trust in news?

It's highest in Finland at 65 percent and with just 20 percent, lowest in Greece - the lowest figure in 2016. Editors and journalists are trusted less than news organizations almost everywhere.

Despite finding that publishers are losing control of distribution and some consumers aren't noticing where content comes due to the growing influence of platforms, the report's authors nevertheless concluded that "people still want value and identify with traditional news brands."

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