Insights into the lockdown news landscape

October 07, 2020

The branch welcomed Nic Newman to our September meeting who shared fascinating insights into the impact of coronavirus on news consumption.

As well as being a founder member of the BBC News website, Nic is a Senior Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University where he is lead author of the annual Digital News Report, the world’s largest on-going study of consumer behaviour around news.

Surveying more than 80,000 respondents worldwide, this year’s report highlighted the changing behaviour of news consumers during the pandemic, comparing trends between January and April.

The shock arrival of the virus created a “coronavirus paradox”, Nic said, with a higher demand for quality journalism but much less money available to produce it.

He commented: “Journalism matters and is in demand again. But one problem for publishers is that this extra interest is producing even less income – as advertisers brace for an inevitable recession and print revenue dips. Against this background it is likely we’ll see a further drive towards digital subscription and other reader payment models which have shown considerable promise in the last few years.”

As well as increased consumption of all media other than print, there was an overall increased shift to paid content, with 7% of UK respondents saying they pay for digital only news subscriptions.

The report revealed podcasts have also become more popular, with 50% of respondents saying podcasts give a deeper understanding of issues than other types of media.

Trust in news media continues to fall. In the UK, of those who self-identify on the right, 35% say they feel they can trust most news most of the time.  The same is true for just 15% of those who self-identify on the left.
A summary of the report is available online.

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