Reuters has launched its Digital News Report 2021 – a comprehensive annual report on news consumption worldwide. This year’s report covers 46 markets, including six new ones: India, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia and Peru.
The report provides evidence that some news organisations have benefitted from a desire for reliable information over the last year – in terms of higher reach, higher trust and more subscribers. But the pandemic has also accelerated shifts to digital, social and mobile environments putting further economic pressure on publishers worldwide.
Key findings include:
· Trust in news has grown, on average, by six points in the wake of the pandemic – with 44 per cent saying they trust most news most of the time. This partly reverses falls in average trust over the last few years. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (65 per cent). The US has the lowest levels (29 per cent).
· Across 20 countries where publishers have been actively pushing digital subscriptions, Reuters finds 17 per cent say that they have paid for some kind of online news in the last year. That’s up by two points in the last year and up five since 2016. Despite this, the vast majority of consumers do not pay for any online news.
· More respondents said they had seen more misinformation about coronavirus than any other subject, including politics. They expressed most concern about the role played by politicians (29 per cent) in spreading inaccurate or misleading information about Covid-19, followed by ordinary people (16 per cent), activists (15 per cent) and journalists (11 per cent).
· Across countries, 74 per cent say they still prefer news that reflects a range of views and lets them decide what to think. Most also think that news outlets should try to be neutral on every issue (66 per cent), though some younger groups think that ‘impartiality’ may not be appropriate or desirable in some cases, such as social justice issues.
· Trust in the news (36 per cent) in the UK is up by eight points in the wake of Covid-19, though 14 points lower than before the 2016 Brexit referendum. Broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Sky News, and Channel 4 are the most trusted brands and have also increased their weekly reach.