In an era marked by global crises and uncertainties, the 2023 Digital News Report provides crucial insights into the challenges faced by the news industry. Authored by Nic Newman, this report sheds light on declining engagement, trust issues, and an evolving media landscape. Against the backdrop of economic pressures and climate instability, the report highlights the changing preferences of news consumers and the impact of social media platforms.
Changing News Consumption Patterns
The report reveals a significant shift towards digital, mobile, and platform-dominated media environments. While traditional news websites and apps have seen a decline in preference, younger generations are increasingly accessing news through social media, search engines, and mobile aggregators. Facebook, once a central news hub, is facing declining influence as networks like TikTok and YouTube gain prominence. The rise of video-led networks and the fragmentation of channels pose challenges for news organizations.
Trust and Engagement
Trust in news continues to be a concern, with a 2% decrease in overall trust across markets. The COVID-19 pandemic’s initial gains in trust have been eroded, reflecting public skepticism. Public service media brands maintain higher levels of trust in certain European countries but struggle to engage younger audiences. This emphasizes the need to maintain broader reach to ensure future legitimacy, particularly among younger demographics.
Evolving News Payment Landscape
As household budgets tighten, the growth of online news payments appears to be plateauing. Only 17% of respondents across 20 affluent countries paid for any online news, with varying proportions in different countries. Norway leads in the proportion of news subscribers, while Japan and the United Kingdom lag behind. Cost of living and perceived lack of value remain barriers to subscription, with fewer non-subscribers willing to pay for online news.
Challenges of Algorithmic News Selection
While news consumers express skepticism about algorithms used for news selection, they still prefer algorithmic recommendations over those made by editors or journalists. This highlights a wider concern about news curation and selection. Despite hopes that the internet would enhance democratic debate, fewer people are actively participating in online news, particularly in the UK and the United States.
Rise of Video and Podcasting
Video consumption of news continues to grow steadily, with platforms like YouTube and Facebook serving as primary sources. News podcasting, while a minority activity, resonates with educated and younger audiences. Deep-dive podcasts and extended chat shows gain popularity, offering in-depth analysis and alternative news formats.
In conclusion, the 2023 Digital News Report underscores the fragile state of the news industry in the face of economic, political, and technological disruptions. Publishers face challenges in convincing audiences to pay attention to and pay for news content. The report emphasizes the importance of relevance, accuracy, and humanity in journalism. It also highlights the need to adapt to evolving audience behaviors and preferences, including a preference for informal, entertaining news formats delivered by influencers. Building trust, reaching audiences through various platforms, and providing valuable content will be vital for the industry’s future success.
As the media landscape continues to transform, the 2023 Digital News Report serves as a call to action for journalists and news organizations to restore relevance, trust, and engagement by meeting the specific needs of their audiences. Innovation, flexibility, and a relentless audience focus are essential ingredients for success in this ever-changing digital era.
- “Only around a fifth of respondents (22%) now say they prefer to start their news journeys with a website or app – that’s down 10 percentage points since 2018.”
- “The Chinese-owned social network [TikTok] reaches 44% of 18–24s across markets and 20% for news.”
- “Less than a third (30%) say that having stories selected for me on the basis of previous consumption is a good way to get news, 6 percentage points lower than when we last asked the question in 2016.”
- “On average, four in ten of our total sample (40%) say they trust most news most of the time.”
- “Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%), while Greece (19%) has the lowest.”
- “Around a third (34%) access a podcast monthly, with 12% accessing a show relating to news and current affairs.”
- “Across a basket of 20 richer countries, 17% paid for any online news – the same figure as last year.”
- “Norway (39%) has the highest proportion of those paying, with Japan (9%) and the United Kingdom (9%) amongst the lowest.”