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When you're not reading MicroScope, how do you consume your news?

Reuters’ annual report reveals insights about digital news consumption based on survey of over 50,000 online news consumers in 26 countries

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: MicroScope: MicroScope: July 2016

The world of news is changing at breakneck speed. In the largest report of its kind, Reuters surveyed over 50,000 people from around the world in order to get an understanding of the shifting landscape.

The rise of social news

Social is proving to be an increasingly disruptive force when it comes to news consumption. Half of Reuter’s global sample (51%) said that they now use social media as a source of news each week. Around one in ten (12%) said that it was their main source of news, with more than a quarter of 18–24s (28%) using social platforms as their go-to news source.

The rise of the algorithm

Another area that Reuters focused on was the evolving use of news aggregation services and the impact that this is having on the role of editors and journalists. Asked whether having stories selected for by editors and journalists was a good way to get news, only 30% said that it was.

Conversely, 36% said that they preferred to have their stories automatically selected based on what had been consumed in the past.

Just over a fifth said that they were happy to have stories automatically selected based on what their friends had consumed.

“Respondents everywhere expressed some concerns about the possible negative impact of algorithms, with Norwegians and British amongst those who most fear that key information or challenging viewpoints might be lost in an algorithmically-driven filter bubble,” the report said.

“Looking at news consumption in this holistic way, it is clear that editors still play a considerable role in shaping agendas directly and influencing the stories that emerge in social networks and other aggregators.”

The rise of mobile

Across all respondents, more than half (53%) said they now use a smartphone to access news.

In the UK, mobile devices have now become the main device for new consumption, with smartphones and tablets outstripping laptops desktops.

“Across our sample we find that heavy smartphone users tend to access the news more frequently than people who mainly use computers or tablets,” Reuters said. “Almost a fifth (19%) of those who use the smartphone as a main device say they access news more than five times a day.”

The report also found that people who use multiple devices are also much more likely to access news more frequently. Almost half (47%) of the entire sample said that they use two or more devices for news each week.

Types of news

News articles remain the most consumed type of news content (59%), although the emergence of new formats are beginning to threaten traditional articles. Formats such as live pages (15%), and Listicles (13%) picture stories (20%) and infographics (8%) are all increasing in popularity.

Surprisingly, video-based news isn’t growing as quick as might be expected. Across the 26 countries surveyed, only a quarter (24%) of respondents said they access online news video in any given week.

“This represents surprisingly weak growth given the explosive growth and prominence on the supply side,” the report said.

“Video consumption is highest in the United States (33%), where there has been significant ramp up in production by many news organisations – attracted by higher advertising premiums and better distribution opportunities in social media.”

By contrast, weighted European average showed less than a quarter (22%) were using video news in a given week.



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