The Reuters Institute Digital News Report has revealed there’s something of a mix future for online news journalism and paid content.
Three-quarters of Brits read news everyday – which is low
According to the survey findings, based on a poll of 6,000 people from the UK, US, Germany, France and Denmark (so when I say ‘rest of the world’ that’s sort of not at all true), around three quarters of us Brits access news every day. ‘Access news’ meaning either watching TV, listening to radio, reading it online or in good old fashioned inky finger newspapers.
Not a bad stat, but compared to the Germans we’re lagging behind. 90% of our Deutschland friends are accessing news on a daily basis. We’re also lagging behind the Denmark, the US and France.
Source: Reuters, via BBC News Online
Celebs vs politicians
But maybe it’s about the quality of news read, rather than quantity? Actually, no.
According to the BBC’s abridged reporting of the survey, us Brits are far more into celeb news (that is gossip, film and music) than political news. 21% of readers in the UK are hungry for celeb-centric stories, compared to 16% in the US, 14% in France and Germany and a miniscule 9% in Denmark (although to be far, I can’t name a Danish celeb).
The BBC attributes (blames) this on sites like Mail Online, Holy Moly and Female First.
In comparison, 37% of UK readers were interested in political news. This sounds good, until you compared it to the US’s 63%.
Future is bright for online journalism and the social media savvy
The upside to this, from the future of journalism perspective, is UK users are more likely to find news online than anywhere else – 82% of those snap-shotted in the survey had read online news in the last week.
More good news for online comes in the social media usage and discovery stats. On average, 20% of readers are now likely to find a story through social media sites (Facebook and Twitter named specifically). For younger readers, those tweet posting / status updating whipper-snappers, this goes up to a whopping 43%. More exciting still, social media collectively surpasses search engines as a source – take that Google News.
Mixed results for paid content
Sadly, one of the lowest numbers in the entire report is the percentage of UK readers willing to pay for news online: just 4%. It’s not much better elsewhere, the highest figure came from Denmark and barely broke into double figures at 12%.
Its better news for those who’ve looked into a tablet app as well as a website – 21% of tablet owners have paid for news. As always this is always a slightly skewed statistic. Tablet owners tend to be at the upper end of the affluent scale, so have more dosh to splash on digital content. I’m not sure Mail Online readers will be queuing up to pay for a tablet app ticker of celebs posing at the Wimbledon final. Never say never though.
So while there’s money to be made and online eyeballs to be grabbed, the ball is still in the media innovators’ corner to secure the future value of news journalism. The full report can be read for free online here.