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Media (R)evolutions: Social media as a main source of news on the rise, new study finds

Darejani Markozashvili's picture
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New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Where do you get your news from? Is it TV, printed media, radio, social media? Are they established or new news sources? Your answer probably differs depending on your own media consumption behaviors, your age, where you live, and many other aspects. And your answer may change from year to year. You probably still read, watch, or listen to the similar familiar and trusted sources, but has the way you get to those sources changed overtime? How do you access news? Trying to understand the changing environment around news across countries, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism commissioned the “Digital News Report.”

The latest Digital News Report 2016 found that across their entire sample, 51% of those interviewed (over 50,000 people in 26 countries) used social media as a source of news each week. For one in ten of those used social media as their main source of news. The infographic below shows clear growth of social media as a main source of news (selected countries) just from last year. According to this report, in Brazil, the growth of social media as a main source of news increased from 10% to 18%, while in Denmark it doubled from 6% to 12%. Other selected countries also experienced significant increase. In Greece, 27% said social media was their main source of news. More than TV (21%) and Print (3%).

Of course, social media is just one of the ways people all over the world access news, in addition to TV, radio, news website, and other sources. However, in this particular report when we look at the news consumption behaviors taking into account the age of the consumer, it becomes clear that for “every group under 45, online news is now more important than television news. For 18-24 social media (28%) comes out ahead of TV (24%) for the first time with print lagging behind at just 6%.” The infographic below demonstrates that while 64% of 18-24s stated that their main news source was “online” (including social media), this number was only 25% for 55+. On the other hand, 53% of 55+ said that TV was their main news source, while only 24% of 18-24s stated TV as their main source of news.

So why do these numbers matter? Well, the changing face of news access and consumption has big implications for news organizations in terms of how they produce, package, and distribute their content.
This report was based on a survey of more than 50,000 people in 26 countries. Research was conducted by YouGov using an online questionnaire. For more specific country-by-country data, please read the full report: Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Digital News Report 2016
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