07 July, 2021
Coronavirus pandemic exacerbated digital disruption at the expense of traditional and independent media companies
The tenth edition of the Reuters Digital News Report was published on 23 June 2021. Based on surveys launched last January with over 92.000 online news consumers in 46 markets all over the world, the report continues to explore the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and includes, for the first time, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia and Peru.
The pandemic and the technological changes have accelerated the shift towards more digital, social and mobile consumption, damaging the traditional business model of media companies and "forcing a more fundamental rethink about how journalism should operate in the next decade as a business, in terms of technology, but also as a profession".
In general, the report reflects the following trends and impacts:
- The consumption of TV news has increased this year. However, it is likely to be more a temporary consequence of the lockdown situations in several countries rather than a long-term new trend.
- Media companies have significantly expanded their supply of podcasts but the demand of podcasts is growing slower, discovery and awareness remaining the main problem regarding podcasts' consumption.
News, trust & information disorder:
- In Europe, trusted brands, and especially big commercial and public service news, have improved their online audience and activity, especially in countries where public service media are generally trusted.
- In general, an increase of trust in news is observed, probably linked to the Covid-19 crisis. On the contrary, distrust and the feeling to be unfairly represented is significantly more pronounced among young people and political partisans who tend to turn to online alternative sources and social media.
- People strongly support the ideals of impartial and objective news with equal time for all sides, even though some of them recognise to tend to be drawn in fact to more partial and less balanced content.
- Concerns about misinformation have slightly increased, especially towards social media and in particular, Facebook. Even though the rate of concern in Europe is the lowest (54%) compared to other continents, false information about Covid-19 was particularly widespread in Central and Eastern Europe.
- The fall of printed newspapers has not been compensated by the rise of paywalls and subscription memberships, still slowly progressing as people remain reluctant to pay to access news. Nordic countries are the most successful in this regard, especially when it comes to local and regional news media companies.
- The news business model imposed by the platforms and aggregators, a major gateway to news, remains an unsustainable model for publishers who are required to provide content in exchange of access to audiences in non-profitable terms.
- The report stresses the low levels of public awareness of the challenges faced by news companies and therefore, the low levels of support for government intervention and financial help towards media companies.
This year again, three broadcasting regulatory authorities are partners of the Digital News Report project: the BAI (IE), Ofcom (UK) and the Dutch Media Authority (CvdM - NL). More detailed reports for Ireland and for the Netherlands are available on the Irish and Dutch regulators' websites.
- The Reuters Digital News Report 2021
- BAI: Digital News Report Ireland 2021
- CvdM: Digital News Report: Netherlands 2021 [NL]