5 reasons the evidence in the Digital News Roundup shows to keep optimism

Journalism is undergoing a major transformation, as adaptability and journalism ethics will be essential to maintaining the relevance of trade and public confidence. he The Digital News Report 2023 is proof of this and reveals a series of trends and challenges that media outlets face in the digital age and that they must understand in order to evolve and meet the needs of new generations.

Despite the current challenges, Ramos Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute, highlights this Five reasons the evidence in the Digital News Roundup shows for maintaining optimism:

1. People increasingly rely on digital platforms, but they also have multiple concerns about the implications of more personalized news

Many people worry about whether the news they see on the Internet is real or fake. They generally trust the news they see on social media less than the news in general, and they worry about missing out on important information or difficult perspectives.

Given these concerns, it is encouraging that around 65% of younger users (under 35) and 55% of older users (over 35) have tried to influence the choice of stories on their social networks by taking action. or unfollow accounts, mute or block content, or change other settings on their profiles.

This kind of public concern about what they see or don’t see on the platforms is an opportunity for the media to improve their organization and content delivery.

2. While news avoidance is prevalent in many markets, there are also clear opportunities to react

This year, 36% of people surveyed said they actively avoid news sometimes or often, up seven percentage points from 2017. This selective news avoidance is clearly annoying to journalists, but the Digital News Report doesn’t just document the challenge. It also helps to identify possible ways to respond to them.

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It is up to the journalists and editors to decide what they think is the right course of action given their editorial mission, funding and target audience. When they make these decisions, they can identify opportunities from the report data to actively engage those who avoid the news, for example by offering at least more positive coverage, such as solutions journalism or other types of news.

3. Public trust in the news continues to erode in many countries, but most still trust individual brands.

In the main section on trusting the media, the report asked participants if they felt they could trust most news most of the time. According to the responses, trust in the news fell by two percentage points from the previous year (42%) and continues to decline. This suggests that the spike that occurred during the pandemic may have only been a temporary and contextual increase.

However, results at the individual brand level are also encouraging, as it has been documented that even in low-trust contexts some individual brands are still trusted by a majority of people, including many public service outlets such as the BBC, or respected independent media outlets. which operate in challenging contexts, such as El Espectador in Colombia, The Hindu and Indian Express in India, and ABS-CBN in the Philippines.

The ability of some respected brands to maintain the trust of a mainstream audience, even in challenging and low-trust contexts, is an opportunity to emerge in a landscape of anxiety about misinformation, unreliable news, and political propaganda. In conversation with Beatriz Valdés, Gabo 2023 winner from The Ethical Network, we rounded up some Reasons and consequences of public distrust of the media and how to work on it.

4. Even in the context of the cost of living crisis in many countries, the percentage of payment for online news remains stable.

The news business faces serious challenges: Revenue continues to decline, advertisers are shifting their investments to other platforms, and consumers are beginning to value how many online subscriptions (not just for news) they are willing to pay for.

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Given the cost-of-living crisis, inflation, and economic weakness in many markets, it’s not surprising that the percentage of respondents who said they paid for news online in the past year hasn’t gone up. But the fact that 17%, in an average of 20 markets, say they own is also a glass half full story.

In 2009, Arianna Huffington declared, “Paywall is history.” Less than 15 years later, tens of millions of people pay for news, subscriptions are a multi-billion dollar business, and many publishers have grown their revenue through readership to a point where they outpace advertising.

In the recent past, many feared that there was no sustainable business model for digital news, or that the only models that would work would be based on the premise clickbait and lists, today we could say journalism has almost the opposite problem: the most successful business models for digital news tend to focus on serving a minority of news enthusiasts, namely the wealthy and highly educated, often from urban and privileged contexts.

The media’s documented success in achieving commercial success based on outstanding editorial presentation and investment in effectively meeting people’s online needs is an opportunity for others to learn from.

5. Although social networks increasingly dominate news discovery, in some markets news publishers maintain strong direct links.

This year, the Digital News Report documented the ongoing shift towards a more digital, more mobile, and more platform-dominant media environment. It seems that nearly everyone with access to an always-on, unmonitored connection opts for different digital offerings at the expense of traditional news providers.

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This development, which academics have described as “the platform,” affects the distribution, circulation, and production of cultural content and forms of expression; It presents a unique challenge to the news media, which has historically based its social role and business models on control of the means of distribution.

However, in countries such as Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, a large number of Internet users report going directly to a news site or app as their main method of accessing news online. This is not because people in these markets don’t use social media – the vast majority of them – but because a wide range of media outlets have been able to differentiate themselves from what the platforms offer and maintain direct contact with them. your audience

The fact that in some countries with very high levels of social media use, media outlets continue to maintain strong connections with large parts of the audience shows that it is still possible to find ways to reach people even in platform-dominated environments. A lesson that the Latin American media can take to copy.

While none of these findings makes the broader political, economic, social, and technological challenges facing journalism disappear, they all provide reason for optimism and remind us that it is critical that journalism adapts and that media outlets are willing to adjust your approach to meet the demands and needs of new generations of news consumers. .

This evolution includes using technology responsibly, practicing ethical journalism and facing changes in the digital landscape effectively and with an open mind, in order to maintain the importance of exercise and remain a powerful force for informing and empowering societies in the future.

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