(15 Jun 2022) This report, commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, is the 11th annual report to understand how news is being consumed in a
range of countries. It reveals new insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 93,000 online news consumers in 46 markets covering half of the world’s population.
The report documents ways in which the connection between journalism and the public may be fraying, including a fall in trust following last year’s positive bump, a declining interest in news and a rise in news avoidance. It also looks at audience polarisation and explores how young people access news.
A summary of some of the most important findings from our 2022 research:
- Trust in the news has fallen in almost half the countries in our survey, and risen in just seven, partly reversing the gains made at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. On average, around four in ten of our total sample (42%) say they trust most news most of the time. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%), while news trust in the USA has fallen by a further three percentage points and remains the lowest (26%) in our survey.
- Consumption of traditional media, such as TV and print, declined further in the last year in almost all markets (pre-Ukraine invasion), with online and social consumption not making up the gap. While the majority remain very engaged, others are turning away from the news media and in some cases disconnecting from news altogether. Interest in news has fallen sharply across markets, from 63% in 2017 to 51% in 2022.
- Meanwhile, the proportion of news consumers who say they avoid news, often or sometimes, has increased sharply across countries. This type of selective avoidance has doubled in both Brazil (54%) and the UK (46%) over the last five years, with many respondents saying news has a negative effect on their mood. A significant proportion of younger and less educated people say they avoid news because it can be hard to follow or understand – suggesting that the news media could do much more to simplify language and better explain or contextualise complex stories.
- In the five countries we surveyed after the war in Ukraine had begun, we find that television news is relied on most heavily – with countries closest to the fighting, such as Germany and Poland, seeing the biggest increases in consumption. Selective news avoidance has, if anything, 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 have seen more false information about Coronavirus than about politics in most countries, but the situation is reversed in Turkey, Kenya, and the Philippines, amongst others.
- Despite increases in the proportion paying for online news in a small number of richer countries (Australia, Germany, and Sweden), there are signs that overall growth may be levelling off. Across a basket of 20 countries where payment is widespread, 17% paid for any online news – the same figure as last year. Persuading younger people to pay remains a critical issue for industry, with the average age of a digital news subscriber almost 50.
- A large proportion of digital subscriptions go to just a few big national brands – reinforcing the winner takes most dynamics that we have reported in the past. But in the United States and Australia we are now seeing the majority of those paying taking out more than one subscription. This reflects the increased supply of differentiated paid news products in areas such as political opinion, local news, and a range of specific niches – holding out hope that more people will ultimately pay for multiple titles.
- But in the face of rapidly rising household bills, we find some respondents rethink the number of media subscriptions they can afford this year – which include news, television, music, and books. While most say they expect to retain the same number of media subscriptions, others say they expect to take out fewer, as they look to save money on non-essential items.
- With first-party data collection becoming more important for publishers with the imminent demise of third-party cookies, we find that most consumers are still reluctant to register their email address with news sites. Across our entire sample, only around a third (32%) say they trust news websites to use their personal data responsibly – comparable to online retailers such as Amazon – and the figure is even lower in the United States (18%) and France (19%).
- Access to news continues to become more distributed. Across all markets, less than a quarter (23%) prefer to start their news journeys with a website or app, down nine points since 2018. Those aged 18–24 have an even weaker connection with websites and apps, preferring to access news via side-door routes 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 feed compared with other networks. While older groups remain loyal to the platform, we show how the youngest generation has switched much of its attention to more visual networks over the last three years.
- TikTok has become the fastest growing network in this year’s survey, reaching 40% of 18–24s, with 15% using the platform for news. Usage is much higher in parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa than it is in the United States or Northern Europe. Telegram has also grown significantly in some markets, providing a flexible alternative to Meta-owned WhatsApp.
Read more from the overview here.
The report in full can be found here.