2017 Digital News Report

Overview and Key Findings of the 2017 Report

Some of the key findings from our 2017 research:

  • Growth in social media for news is flattening out in some markets, as messaging apps that are (a) more private and (b) tend not to filter content algorithmically are becoming more popular. The use of WhatsApp for news is starting to rival Facebook in a number of markets including Malaysia (51%), Brazil (46%), and Spain (32%).
  • Only a quarter (24%) of our respondents think social media do a good job in separating fact from fiction, compared to 40% for the news media. Our qualitative data suggest that users feel the combination of a lack of rules and viral algorithms are encouraging low quality and ‘fake news’ to spread quickly.
  • There are wide variations in trust across our 36 countries. The proportion that says they trust the news is highest in Finland (62%), but lowest in Greece and South Korea (23%).
  • In most countries, we find a strong connection between distrust in the media and perceived political bias. This is particularly true in countries with high levels of political polarisation like the United States, Italy, and Hungary.
  • Almost a third of our sample (29%) say they often or sometimes avoid the news. For many, this is because it can have a negative effect on mood. For others, it is because they can’t rely on news to be true.
  • Mobile marches on, outstripping computer access for news in an increasing number of countries. Mobile news notifications have grown significantly in the last year, especially in the US (+8 percentage points), South Korea (+7), and Australia (+4), becoming an important new route to content and giving a new lease of life to news apps.
  • In a related development there has been a significant growth in mobile news aggregators, notably Apple News, but also Snapchat Discover for younger audiences. Both have doubled usage with their target groups in the last year.
  • Smartphones are now as important for news inside the home as outside. More smartphone users now access news in bed (46%) than use the device when commuting to work.
  • Voice-activated digital assistants like the Amazon Echo are emerging as a new platform for news, already outstripping smart watches in the US, UK, and Germany.
  • In terms of online news subscriptions, we have seen a very substantial ‘Trump bump’ in the US (from 9 to 16%) along with a tripling of news donations. Most of those new payments have come from the young – a powerful corrective to the idea that young people are not prepared to pay for online media, let alone news.
  • Across all countries, only around one in ten (13%) pay for online news but some regions (Nordics) are doing much better than others (Southern Europe and much of Asia).
  • Ad-blocking growth has stalled on desktop (21%) and remains low on smartphones (7%). Over half say they have temporarily disabled their ad-blocker for news in countries like Poland (57%), Denmark (57%), and the United States (52%).
  • We have new evidence that news brands may be struggling to cut through on distributed platforms. In a study tracking more than 1,500 respondents in the UK, we found that while most could remember the path through which they found a news story (Facebook, Google, etc.), less than half could recall the name of the news brand itself when coming from search (37%) and social (47%).
  • Austrians and Swiss are most wedded to printed newspapers, Germans and Italians love TV bulletins, while Latin Americans get more news via social media and chat apps than other parts of the world.

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