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New digital media consumption trends as seen by the Reuters Digital News Report 2018

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New digital media consumption trends as seen by the Reuters Digital News Report 2018

“Journalism exists within the context of its audience. Their public mission rests with its audience”, said Rasmus Nielsen, Director of Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, on  Friday, November 9 at WAN-IFRA’s Digital Media Asia 2018 conference in Hong Kong.

News must be designed for the current audience it serves, said Nielsen as he touched up the five key findings from the 2018 Reuters Digital News Report conducted in 37 countries:  

  • a decline of news distribution through social media

  • trust in media brands

  • what is fake news

  • the move to digital and global platforms

  • new technologies. 

The report found that social media, as a platform for news consumption, remains high and stable in all markets, but there has been a clear decline in its usage.

Many markets that see a decline in social media news accumulation from Facebook have seen an increase in news distribution on private forms of social media -- like WhatsApp, sometimes referred to as “dark social”, as analytics cannot be obtained. Nielsen however noted that this decline does not mean that Facebook’s audience is shrinking. 

Trust levels among respondents varied based on the news outlet. Only 41 percent said they trusted broadcast and traditional media news; 34 percent trust the news found in an Internet search; and 23 percent trust news found on social media platforms.

“The assumption is that people are naively trusting of all the information that they find on social media”, said Nielsen. “This is wrong, they are skeptical”. 

More than half of the respondents said they are concerned about their ability to trust the news, but levels varied across the 37 countries. 

In a new era where fake news has become a regularly used phrase in newsroom, it’s important to note how newsrooms define fake news versus the audience they serve. “You may mean fabricated news, but they may mean poor journalism”, said Nielsen.

Also, in terms of who should be combating the spread of fake news, most respondents believe it was the publisher's responsibility, rather than the platforms used to publish.

A uniform and global media trend shows that all media are moving toward digital and mobile, and are no longer able to depend on advertising revenue for financial sustainability.

It’s been a “hard journey” for many news outlets to diversify their funding, “but we are beginning to see real results that we should be heartened by”, said Nielsen

Looking toward the future, Nielsen urged news companies to think about how to create content that fits the products their customers are using -- specifically pointing to the rise of voice technologies like Google Home.

“Audiences will expect us to make content for these platforms,” he said. “We have to think about how we will have a relationship with these entities”.



Kari Lindberg is a freelance journalist and a journalism graduate student at the University of Hong Kong.



Kimberly Lim's picture

Kimberly Lim


2018-11-15 11:51

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