The Reuters Institute Digital Report 2012
Based on a representative survey of online news consumers across five countries – UK, US, Germany, France and Denmark – the report is the start of an ambitious project to track changing digital news behaviour over the next decade.
Key international findings
- There are significant differences in how regularly people keep up with the news across our surveyed countries. More than 9 in 10 Germans access the news at least once a day compared with only 3 in 4 people in the United Kingdom.
- The rapid switch from print to digital in the United States is not being replicated exactly in European countries. Germany is showing the strongest allegiance to traditional viewing and reading habits and has the lowest levels of internet news use.
- In the UK, news about politics is perceived to be less important – and celebrity news more important – compared to the other countries surveyed.
- There is more interest in business and especially economic news in the UK and the US than in the European countries surveyed.
One in five of our UK sample (20%) share news stories each week via email or social networks – but in general Europe lags behind the United States in both the sharing of news and other forms of digital participation.
Rise of smartphones and tablets
- Smartphones are starting to play a significant role in the consumption of news with more than a quarter of those in the US and UK accessing news via their mobile each week (28%) rising to almost one third in Denmark (32%)
- In the UK, more than one in ten (13%) say their smartphones are now their MAIN way of accessing online news. This figure rises to more than a quarter for the 25–34 year old age group (27%). Over 55s show almost no interest in accessing news this way.
- The tablet is emerging as an important device for news consumers. Of tablet owners, 58% use the device to access news every week in the UK. They are more likely to pay for news content and 44% say they find the experience better than a PC. In the UK, we find that some newspaper brands with paid apps do significantly better on a tablet than on the open internet – in terms of overall market share.
- More widely, consumers remain resistant to paying for news in digital form. Propensity to pay for online news is lowest in the UK (4%) compared to the other markets and highest in Denmark (12%).
Digital natives show new online behaviours
- Younger people are more likely to use social media rather than search to discover news – whereas for older groups it is the other way round. More generally, social media (20%) is now beginning to rival search (30%) as a key gateway to news in the UK – in terms of weekly access
- Young people are more likely to make a news related comment or post a picture on a social network than on a traditional news site. For older groups the reverse is true.
- The young also watch fewer traditional television news bulletins than older people, consume far less radio news and consume proportionally more news on a mobile phone.
- Nearly 6 out of 10 young people say they used the internet ‘to get more involved in politics or express a political opinion’.”