Reuters released it’s 8th annual ‘Digital News Report’ and the sheer size and scale of the survey (6 continents, 40 countries and 75,000 people) is humongous while the content is absolutely fascinating as it allows you to glimpse at the shifting trends in how the world is consuming media. If you cannot go through the report which has oodles of charts and figures then just watch the 3 minute video which summarizes the insights of the survey. The key points from the survey and what it means for all of us are;
- There is a shift to paid content for news but the growth is very marginal and is limited to US which has 16% paid subscriptions and Nordic countries with Norway at 34% and Sweden at 27% ; this trend is not enough to compensate for drop in revenues for the news outlets. So, news outlets are still in for a long haul to attract readers to pay for content while battling the social media and news aggregators.
- The subscriptions are dominated by few large names; NY Times and Washington Post account for more than half of all US subscribers and so there is a gap to be filled in with news outlets catering those with special interests.
- 55% of people globally prefer to access news through search engines (Google); social media (Facebook) or news aggregators (Apple News) which use algorithms to select and rank stories rather than going to the news publishers (NY Times) where editors do that work. In addition to the debate of human vs machine’s role in monitoring news content the fact that worldwide more than half of the respondents prefer to get their news from another source than a news outlet challenges the business model of traditional news outlets.
- Even with above trend, distrust of news has increased along with distrust of social media and globally 42% of respondents worry about what is real news and what is fake news on the Internet.
- People are using WhatsApp for sharing and discussing news as the main medium in Latin and Asian countries while usage of Facebook shows slight drop globally.