Key findings from the Digital News Report 2024

posted on 08 July, 2024   (public)

Changing platforms' strategies and news avoidance: an opportunity for media brands?

On 17 June 2024, the Reuters Institute published its yearly Digital News Report, analysing online news consumption across six continents and 47 markets. Among key trends of the 2024 report, the Reuters Institute highlights the rising popularity of video-based networks and an increasing news fatigue, factors which lead to changing platforms strategies. Such shifts might however be an opportunity for media brands to rethink how they approach news and journalism. 

  1. A shift to visual and video-based networks

The report observes a strong shift towards video-based networks, creating different dynamics - content which is harder to monetise on video-based platforms, as well as journalists and news media are eclipsed by news creators and influencers.

Motivations for using social video

Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report

As a result, private messaging platforms and video networks such as YouTube and TikTok are becoming major players, and are increasingly used by politicians as well, at the expense of social media networks, such as Facebook and X.
Even podcasts, which remain a bright spot but still a minority activity overall that essentially attracts younger, richer and better educated audiences, are more and more filmed, blurring the lines with video format.

  1. Changing platforms' strategies leading to a weaker connection with news brands

Major big tech companies are facing disruption from more agile players, with a new wave of innovation and changing online behaviour.
In response, platforms are adapting their strategies to keep the users on their platform. Such new strategies lead to a deprioritising of news and political content, a focus shift from publishers to “creators” and ultimately, reduced traffic flows to news websites.


  1. News fatigue and avoidance

Like last year, there is a growing selective avoidance of news and a decline in interest in politics and news, especially among young people and women.
Media are often seen by interviewees as repetitive, relentless and boring and for some, the negative nature of the news and the overwhelming volume of content make them feel anxious and powerless.

Source: Reuters Institute Digital News

In general, there is a clear call for dialling down the constant updating of news.
It is worth noting that young people and women are more interested in environment, climate change and wellness than older groups.


  1. The battle for visibility
Platforms are the main gateway to online news, while search engines and aggregator portals still play a key role to access news content.
To attract users, discounting their subscription fee is the most recurrent persuading method used by news brands, but this business model is “likely to be a long and difficult road with few winners and many casualties along the way”.
In general, there is little growth in news subscriptions and a reinforcement of the “winner takes most dynamics”.


  1. A remaining concern for disinformation and low levels of trust
Regarding disinformation, TikTok is the social media that generates the highest level of concern with 27% of users struggling to detect trustworthy news.
It is worth noting that in Europe, people are less confident about their ability to identify untrustworthy news than in the United States. The report identifies as a potential cause, the Digital Services Act that might have helped increase awareness of the potential online harms.
Artificial Intelligence raises concerns regarding the potential increasing difficulty to detect fake news and the impact of discriminatory bias. In general, news brands tend to use AI for non-editorial tasks, highlighting the remaining reluctance to use AI in sensitive topics such as content production, and especially in politics and crime.
Even if there is no evidence that AI or even elections have an impact on the level of trust, a mistake could seriously affect the trust level, which is already dangerously low.

Source: Reuters Institute Digital News

NB: the report underlines that increased transparency is not likely to work for those who are less interested in the news.


Conclusion: a call for new ways of thinking news and journalism

According to the Reuters Institute, news fatigue, avoidance and low levels of trust can offer opportunities for media outlets to position themselves as a source of content built on “accuracy, fairness, and transparency” and under human supervision. It will however require to rethink their ways of practicing journalism, addressing news and standing out from the crowd  to re-engage the public.

Yet again, a must-read report for media regulators, with many interesting regulatory implications, such as on the rise of alternative creators and influencers and the reduction of the prominence and the role of news on legacy social media.


Focus on national reports supported by media regulators

As usual, the Irish Coimisiún na Meán, the Commissariaat voor de Media from the Netherlands and Ofcom from the UK are partnering with the Reuters Digital News report and have helped produce more detailed national reports.