Research: Internet Australia’s main news source

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New research from Roy Morgan reveals the Internet has overtaken TV as Australia’s main source of news over the last two years. Over 12.7 million Australians (60.8 per cent) now say the Internet is a main source of news, up 1.4 million since 2018, including nearly 7.9 million Australians (37.7 per cent) specifically nominating Social Media.

The number of Australians who say TV is their main source of news has dipped 1 million over the last two years to 12.4 million or 59.4 per cent. However, TV is still regarded as the most trusted source of news nominated by nearly 7 million Australians (33.4 per cent) – ahead of any other forms of traditional or digital media.

Other traditional media used widely as main sources of news include radio, nominated by 8.7 million Australians (41.9 per cent) and printed newspapers mentioned by 5.2 million (25.0 per cent), although both have declined since 2018.

Within the broader category of the Internet over 3.4 million Australians (16.5 per cent, a significant increase of 4.6 per cent points since 2018) use news feed sites such as Google News, Apple News, Feedly etc., a further 1.8 million (8.6 per cent) use email subscriptions or updates and 1.1 million (5.6 per cent) use other websites or apps. There are 1.0 million (5.0 per cent) who use magazines (printed, website or app) as a main source of news.

These latest findings are drawn from the Roy Morgan Single Source survey, Australia’s most comprehensive survey, derived from in-depth interviews with 50,000 Australians each year.

TV remains clearly the most trusted source of news for Australians (mentioned by 33.4 per cent, but down 4.9 per cent points on two years ago), ahead of the Internet on 25.7 per cent (up 3.6 per cent points). The Internet is split between several different channels including news or newspaper websites/apps, social media, news feed sites such as Google News, Apple News, Feedly etc. and email subscriptions or updates.

The third most trusted source of news is the radio on 15.2 per cent (down 0.7 per cent points) just ahead of news and newspaper websites/apps on 13.7 per cent (up 1.3 per cent points). Newspapers in printed format have dropped 2.2 per cent points to 9.5 per cent. Only 5.0 per cent (up 0.8 per cent points) consider social media their most trusted source of news.

These findings are in line with Roy Morgan’s research of ‘Trust’ and ‘Distrust’ that shows social media is the least trusted media.

“As the world increases its levels of digital communication, one could be forgiven for thinking ‘traditional media’ is being left behind,” noted Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan. “However, the latest research from Roy Morgan, which specifically focuses on the use of, and trust in, news sources clearly shows that TV remains Australians’ most trusted source of news – and while the Internet is now the most common source of news for Australians, TV is still one of Australians’ main sources of news. Additionally, large portions of the population continue to rely on radio and newspapers for their news.”

“The proliferation of new digital media such as ‘social media’ in recent years coupled with the era of ‘fake news’ has put a premium on ‘trust’ in media. Traditional media channels such as TV, radio, and newspapers that have built a high degree of trust over many decades do retain an advantage against new digital media. However, over the last two years Roy Morgan has revealed Internet channels are increasingly being relied upon to provide trusted sources of news.

“Although younger generations have a higher degree of trust in the Internet including social media, 42 per cent of 25-34 year olds and 36 per cent of people under 25 trust the Internet as a source of news compared to only 16 per cent of 50-64 year olds and just 8 per cent of people aged 65-plus, indications are that the level of trust in media generally is set to remain under pressure.

“In this challenging environment with Australians looking for the truth  about the latest developments concerning Covid-19, government enforced lockdowns and the search for a vaccine to deal with the pandemic it is crucial for traditional media brands which have established their online presence to maintain and develop the trusted relationship their audiences have with those brands.”


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