The Reuters Digital News Report 2015

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, has published it’s annual Digital News Report. Research for the report is conducted by YouGov and covers news consumption in 12 countries including the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, USA, (urban) Brazil, Japan and Australia.

The data from the report can be explored with an interactive guide or for those who want a quick summary, the handy 100 second video guide summarises the key findings as follows; * Smartphone usage for news continues to rise with 46% accessing their news weekly on a smartphone. * 25% say a smartphone is their primary news source. This figure rises to 41% for the under 35’s. * Tablet growth has slowed. 24% of respondents use tablets for accessing the news weekly and most of them are over 45. * 70% have downloaded a news app, but only 33% use them each week. News notifications have doubled in most countries. * Social media is up and print is down as the main source of news, although 74% still read newspapers in print or online and 89% listen or watch broadcast news. * 41% use Facebook for news each week, and Facebook referrals to other news sites has grown by 42% in the last year. 34% of Brazil and 27% of Spain use Whatsapp for news compared with 1% of USA. * 21% access online video news each week, but 40% prefer text and 29% are put off by pre-roll-ads. * Only 6% pay for news in UK, and advertising models are at threat with 39% of UK using ad blockers and 47% using them in US.

The BBC News online business section report that news outlets will have to become ‘more inventive to arrest a decline in traditional revenue’.

‘…Many consumers in the US and UK admitted to using ad-blocking software, eroding many media companies’ main source of online revenue. Ad-blocking, which is installed by default on some browsers, is “reaching epidemic proportions”, according to Nic Newman, a research associate at the Reuters Institute. Publishers were dealt a further blow recently when Apple announced that its latest mobile browser would also come with such a feature’.

Michael Rosenwald at the Columbia Journalism Review is alarmed at the economic threats to journalism as readers turn away from advertising models of revenue. He thinks the figures predict a ‘digital winter’ unless publishers respond quickly.

‘In some respects, the reader hasn’t changed. Most have never really liked ads but have put up with them, by flipping past them in the old days of newspapers. But paper didn’t offer a button to erase ads. The ads didn’t blink annoyingly. The car ads didn’t follow them from the local news section to the baseball box scores. Now readers, not publishers, control what they want to see. Consumers are in charge of news—how they see it, when they’ll consume it, what they’ll pay for it—and if publishers want to survive, they better figure out a way to get more economically in sync with them’.

Claire Wardle at the Tow Centre points out that the data is complex, with swings in the way an audience looks for and consumes news, based on age, location, and what they are doing at the time.

‘This piece of data acts as a reminder that whenever some self-proclaimed guru stands up and makes bold pronouncements about the state of the news industry, remind them (or at least remind the snarky backchannel that is Twitter at a conference) that they’re missing the necessary complexity. Just the other day at the World News Media Congress I heard another person passing on the false claim that desktop was dead. “It’s all about mobile.” Wrong. Desktop is still important for people, especially at work. But you also have to provide content for them that performs on their smartphone or tablet for their commute or late night swiping in bed’.