Habits and Trust in News Consumption

A study of Brits’ news consumption habits has shown we are increasingly reliant on our smart phones to keep up to date – but are starting to fall out of love with Facebook.

The annual research by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Oxford University surveyed 74,000 people in 37 countries around the world.

The report has confirmed the dominance of the BBC in Britain – 53% of people said they used the Beeb’s TV and radio news output three days or more in the week before the survey.

This compared with 20% for ITV and 14% for Sky.

A third (33%) of Brits had used bbc.co.uk for their news fix three days or more, followed by guardian.com (14%) and Mail Online (10%), according to the survey, which quizzed 2,117 people in Britain.

BBC News also came out as the most trusted news brand in the country, with an average mark out of 10 of 7.02.

The most trusted national newspaper was The Times, with an average mark of 6.35 / 10 on the trustworthiness index.

But Facebook is starting to take a hit – at least when it comes to news consumption.

The number of Brits using the platform for news dropped by two per cent compared to last year’s survey to 27%.

Twitter and YouTube showed slight rises (2% and 1% respectively) when Brits were asked if they used the sites for news.

The use of social media in the US has dropped even further, with figures showing a six per cent decrease in Americans turning to social platforms for current affairs.

The report points out that Facebook may have taken a hit after it was revealed data firm Cambridge Analytica used 50m profiles from the site to target voters in the US.

The number of Brits subscribing to print and digital news titles appears to be climbing slowly, but just 7% of us are paying to read news online.

When it comes to trust, Brits aged over and under 35 show similar levels of trust for all news brands apart from the Sun, Mirror and Mail, which are more trusted by over 35s.

Online news brands, such as BuzzFeed are equally trusted by young and old.

The smartphone has overtaken the computer as Brits’ favourite way to read the news for the first time.

The report shows that nearly 60% of us receive our news on our phones compared to 50% who use computers.

Over half (54%) of all those surveyed in the report said they were worried about the spread of fake news on the Internet, with the most concerned being in the US, Brazil and Spain.

It is thought this is because of the perfect storm of highly charged, polarised political situations combined with high social media use.

Most (75%) people surveyed said that online platforms themselves should be responsible for weeding out fake news, with 60% of Europeans saying governments should step in.

But the report’s authors say that news is far from dying.

Nic Newman, Research Associate, Reuters institute of the Study of Journalism says in his introduction to the report: “This year’s report contains signs of hope for the news industry following the green shoots that emerged 12 months ago.

“Change is in the air with many media companies shifting models towards higher quality content and more emphasis on reader payment.

“We find that the move to distributed content via social media and aggregators has been halted — or is even starting to reverse, while subscriptions are increasing in a number of countries.

“Meanwhile notions of trust and quality are being incorporated into the algorithms of some tech platforms — as they respond to political and consumer demands to fix the reliability of information in their systems.”