A look into the changing consumption of news, and believability

It’s not a new statement to say we’ve shifted the way we consume or engage with news. However, it’s often forgotten that this shift isn’t occurring at a ‘moment in time’, it continues. While whether we click, scroll or turn a page, how we choose to consume our media is also more interesting when considering how this changes the behaviors or trust surrounding this activity.

‘When we are no longer able to change a situation- we are challenged to change ourselves ‘– Viktor E. Frankl

 

Much like the saying ‘you are what you read’, is our chosen method of consumption a reflection of our identity and which does our level trust in what we read, depend on the format.

While it may be easy to image an older generation still pouring over the news within a double page spread, every generation is playing its part in this shift. Looking at Australia specifically, the younger generation is still driving the most change but is this perhaps only a result of never relying on ‘one’ channel for news.

We look into how the landscape has changed, and what else can be unearthed.

Key findings in the shift of the media landscape   

  • The growth of stories format and the shift to online videos, audios, images and live streams
  • Digital rival’s TV for news consumption
  • Social media has replaced ‘serious news’ with the trending, the viral and the buzzworthy
  • The news cycle is now 24/7
  • There has been a significant increase in fake news and a shift in the amount of trust people have in news
  • Australians get their news from the following sources:
  • Facebook 41%
  • FB Messenger 11%
  • WhatsApp 10%
  • Instagram 9%
  • Snapchat 5%
  • 6 out of 10 New Zealanders read news content online and audiences spend almost 3 hours per watching broadcast TV

Trending news

With unlimited access to news and a 24/7 news cycle, people have to find a way to process the information. News happens instantaneously now and what happens today is often forgotten tomorrow.  In the world of social media, most scroll through their newsfeed and only stop to look at topics and buzzworthy or trending stories that are relevant to their current situation. Not only that, watching short video clips that provide main headlines and brief conclusions are on the rise.

Fake news

A recent study conducted by the News and Media Research Centre revealed that 73% of Australian news consumers have experience a range of fake news including:

  • Poor journalism (40%).
  • Politically or commercially fabricated news (25%)
  • Stories pushing a political agenda (38%);
  • Advertorial (33%);
  • Satire (25%); and
  • The use of the term ‘fake news’ to discredit the media (37%)

Those who mainly use online news as their news source were more susceptible to encountering fake news compared to print and TV and as a result, their trust in the news has diminished.

The number of stories labelled ‘fake news’ seems to be increasing almost as quickly as our concern about it. The term has been used for everything from hoaxes and satire, to contentious articles, and genuinely false information. After a data search was conducted for the number of fake news mentions across broadcast, press and online across ANZ, it was discovered Australia had a significantly higher mention rate over a 6-month period in comparison to New Zealand especially across broadcast. Over November, December and January we saw a large spike in fake news mentions across the ANZ region, especially across online - this could be as a result of Facebook being in the spotlight around fake news stories on their platform and several inquests happening during this time.

With this data it can be assumed that with so much fake news being reported, our trust in news will be affected.

Trust in news

'Trust in the news is up — but there's still only a 50-50 chance you'll trust me on that', ABC News Online

The trust in news on social media remains low however trust is highest in established news brands, public broadcasters and print newspapers. Consumers seek quality, credibility and reputation when seeking out the news and albeit its use has been declining since 2016, television is still the most popular platform for news consumption. Although there is mistrust, consumption of news on social media is very much on the rise and although there has been a steady hold with the decline in traditional formats, it could be considered ‘a new balancing act’ as it becomes the norm for digital news consumption behaviours to coexist alongside more traditional means.

Shift in demographics

A study conducted by Western Sydney University outlines younger Australians are the ones driving change in terms of news consumption and below are some interesting facts from the study:

  • YouTube is their preferred social media platform (37 per cent), Facebook (15 per cent) Instagram (10 per cent) and Snapchat (6 per cent)
  • They do not trust news organisations and are not reading print newspapers
  • They engage with news stories as it makes them feel happy and motivated and knowledgeable
  • They think news organisations don’t understand young people’s lives and don’t cover the issues that matter to them.
  • Social media is a popular news source, but they are not confident about spotting fake news online

Paywalls

Trust leads to payment for news and those who pay for print newspapers or online news sources are much more likely to trust news than people who don’t pay for it. Australians remain overwhelmingly reluctant to pay for online news as there is so much information readily available for free. But when they do pay, they expect more than just the headlines – with trust in the brand and in-depth news analysis being the primary reasons that they would be willing to pay. Interestingly, although print runs are decreasing, their overall readership is not. The combined print and online readership of newspapers has been growing steadily over the past few years. One of the main reasons for the increased discussions around paywalls are due to businesses having a loss in net profit. As a result of this, businesses are introducing an online paywall, to “win back” their lost net profit. After some analysis, we found mentions around paywall to be increasing month on month in New Zealand as it is becoming more of a topical conversation in the land of the long white cloud. Comparatively, Australia are also discussing paywall however the more prominent conversations were earlier this year (February and March) and have been declining since. Could paywalls and digital subscription services be the future of receiving online content and news?

Paywall image

If you’d like to understand the media lens on any topic, brand or audience, get in touch with us today.