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The annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report, released Tuesday evening, with its survey of more than 93,000 readers in 46 countries, lays out a trio of tough challenges for publishers:

  • Selective news avoidance is high and increasing. On average, 38% of those surveyed said that they often or sometimes avoid news on certain topics — especially politics and COVID-19. They find that kind of journalism depressing and repetitive.
  • Levels of trust remain low. Only 42% of those surveyed said they trust most news most of the time. As was the case a year ago, the United States finishes dead last among the countries with just 26% expressing trust, a three-point dip from 2021.
  • Progress on getting users to pay for digital news remains halting. In the U.S., 19% pay for at least some online news, but large national newspapers are capturing most of that action. Paid digital subscriptions for regional titles are a much harder sell.

Also, despite the attention to Substack successes, individual brands are so far a blip. In the U.S., only 7% of the group who do pay for any subscriptions pay for one or more newsletters.

While news avoidance has been on the radar for some time, Oxford-based Reuters digs a bit deeper.

The survey is repeated year-to-year, and the rate for selective avoidance has gone up significantly in the last five years — from 29% as measured in 2017 to the current 38%.

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