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Takeaways from the Reuters Digital News Report
Plus, Good Luck Media to launch as a climate news outlet
The Reuters Institute released its annual Digital News Report. It’s a big moment for news nerds, as the report offers benchmarks for many aspects of the industry.
Before getting into this year’s takeaways, it’s worth highlighting that the report’s publisher trust scores are facing criticism. Nobel peace laureate Maria Ressa, who founded the news outlet Rappler in the Philippines, said the trust scores fail to account for government disinformation campaigns, and she highlighted how government officials use the report’s trust rankings to delegitimize independent publishers like hers. The Reuters Institute said they “deplore” that their research is used in this way, but they ultimately stood by publishing the data.
Now, let’s get to the top takeaways from the report – here’s what stood out to me:
People are relying less on news websites & apps. Over the last five years, the portion of news consumers who primarily use news websites or apps fell from 32% to 22%. This is driven by young people, who are more likely to find news via social media.
Over half of people are concerned about what news is real and what is fake. The concern is even higher for people who primarily use social media for news. Overall, trust in news is 40%, down 2% from last year.
36% of people say they actively avoid the news. Of those, around half avoid all sources; around half cope by checking the news less often; and around one-third avoid particular topics. Right-leaning readers in the U.S. are much more likely to avoid news about social justice and climate.
Subscriptions are flat globally, but up in the United States. Overall, 17% of people pay for online news content – the same as last year. In the U.S., that number is 21%, up 2% from last year. Another interesting subscription stat: Of subscribers in the U.S., 8% pay for a newsletter written by an individual.
42% of non-subscribers say nothing could persuade them to pay for news. For those who say they might pay for news, lower prices would be the most convincing offering.
One high-level takeaway for me is the growing tension between consumption habits and publisher business models. News consumers, especially young people, continue to shift toward social media and away from directly accessing news websites and apps. At the same time, many publishers are investing in owned platforms to monetize direct relationships with readers.
All this suggests that finding the right balance – between building awareness on social media and driving loyalty on email, apps, and the web – will continue to be a key focus.
Here’s the latest news in digital media:
Good Luck Media will launch as a climate news outlet. The founders are Samantha Oltman – who was an editorial director at Vox – and Alessandra Ram, who has worked in editorial positions at AJ+ and Wired. The organization will produce “immersive podcasts & screen adaptations,” starting with a limited narrative podcast series later this year.
The Insider strike is over after 13 days. The new contract raises the minimum salary from $60k to $65k; includes a promise to not have any more layoffs this year; and provides a 3.5% raise for most staff. The strike was growing increasingly contentious — a group of Insider employees confronted & took a video of EIC Nicholas Carlson as he took down posters of himself placed by union members.
More on layoffs:
The Onion laid off 13 employees, according to the Onion Union.
Southern California Public Radio, which publishes LAist, will cut more than 10% of positions due to a drop in Hollywood advertising.
Canada’s Bell Media is cutting 1,300 positions, or about 3% of staff.
More on publishers:
Most articles get 80% of their pageviews within 24 hours, according to a new Chartbeat analysis.
Thrillist launched a hub for LGBTQ+ travel and experiences.
The New Yorker examined Nate Silver’s influence: “Silver… was in the business of measuring probabilities. Many readers mistook him for an oracle.”
More on platforms:
Reddit moderators plan to extend their protest.
The European Commission made a formal antitrust complaint against Google.
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