Key findings from the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019

27th June 2019 by Radhika Sharma

On 20th June, Flagship Consulting attended the CIPR Annual General Meeting which was held at the Museum of London. The key-note speaker was Meera Selva, Director of the Journalism Fellowship Programme at the Reuters Institute. Meera spoke about the future of journalism, drawing insight from the Reuters Institute’s research on global news trends and media consumption.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019 has some interesting findings that all PR practitioners should bear in mind. I’ve summarised some of the key trends below, so you don’t have to read the whole report:

The way news is delivered is becoming more private…
As private messaging apps continue to grow, platforms such as WhatsApp are becoming primary networks for sharing and discussing news. This has been more prevalent in non-Western countries like Brazil (53%), Malaysia (50%) and South Africa (49%). However, this raises lots of concerns about the spread of fake news through unregulated private conversations.

And concern about misinformation and disinformation remains high…
With so much overwhelming information out there, it can be difficult for consumers to decipher what is real and fake. In Brazil 85% agree with a statement that they are worried about what is real and fake on the internet. Concern is also high in the UK (70%) and US (67%), but much lower in Germany (38%) and the Netherlands (31%). This places even more importance on the media to ensure that they are broadcasting accurate content and gaining the trust of consumers.

So, trust in the news continues to fall…
Across all countries surveyed in the report, the average level of trust in the news in general is down by 2% to 42%. The report suggests that news media outlets do a better job at breaking news rather than explaining it, as almost two-thirds felt that the media are good at keeping people up to date (62%), but are less good at helping them understand the news (51%). This is a warning that more needs to be done to explain the news.

But, the number of people listening to podcasts is growing…
More than a third of people in the Reuters Institute survey (36%) said they have listened to at least one podcast in the last month and this figure rises to half (50%) for those under 35. It is not surprising that podcasts are growing in popularity, especially as an alternative way for more people to learn about key issues rather than reading the news. Podcasts are also designed to be more easily digestible content, fits into consumer lifestyles as they can be listened to whilst commuting or doing household chores. Plus, consumers can pick and choose topics they are interested in listening to.

This report highlights more than ever how crucial it is to ensure that our stories and content are as factual as they can be and that we need to understand consumers’ feelings towards the media. However, on a more positive note, the growth of podcasts shows that we can continue to reach customers through different channels and I’m sure the future will see many new communications channels develop.

The full Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019 can be viewed here.

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