Reuters Digital News Report 2023: a declining engagement and an uncertain business environment

posted on 04 July, 2023   (public)

Online platforms: inevitable partners in the battle for attention?

The 12th edition of the Reuters Digital News Report was released on 21 June 2023. It covers 6 continents and 46 markets and emphasises the complex platforms environment and the shift in behaviour among the younger generation.

The report alerts news media to the urgent need to innovate and to adapt to the audience's expectations to ensure their democratic role and place in the media market. The platforms' environment is evolving, with more providers competing, a higher fragmentation of the audience and a less open and representative participation. Connecting with the audience, and particularly with younger audiences, will require new strategies for news media, putting on the table the dilemma of whether they should be present or not on social networks. 


  1. The coming disruption in news' consumption behaviours
  • Direct access to news websites/apps continues to become less important (-10% in 5 years), in favour of access to news via social media (+7% in 5 years). This tendency is particularly significant among the 18-24 age group.
  • The rise of TikTok among 18-24s (+38% since 2019 of weekly use) and YouTube (+4% in 10 years) as gateways to news demonstrates a shift towards video-led networks.
  • A social network fragmentation is observed, with more providers coming to the market, leading to a more ‘difficult-to-reach’ audience.
  • A declining engagement online – with a shift to closed online networks -, tends to place public debate in the hands of  less representative but influencing active participators
  • Audio news essentially attract younger audiences (popular in countries with a high proportion of young people) but remain a minority activity.


  1. Meeting audience expectations
  • A growing scepticism towards news recommenders’ systems and a low level of trust towards news media’s editorial choices reveal a general dissatisfaction with how content is selected for the audience. However, on average, audiences still prefer content based on algorithms than news selected by journalists. 
  • The level of trust in news media continues to fall, especially in countries with an increasing level of media criticism (mostly driven by politicians and facilitated by social media).
  • Disinterest in news and news avoidance phenomenon are rising, especially in highly polarised countries. In general, it seems that the audience is looking for news which is easier to understand and more positive or solutions-based journalism.
  • Influencers and ordinary people are more prominent than journalists on video-led social media when it comes to news and social debates.

  1. Uncertain business models
  • Inevitably, resources are shifting away from broadcast and print to turn to digital incomes.
  • The subscription model remains fragile (42% of respondents said that nothing would persuade them to pay).
  • The cost of living or the high price is one of the main factors to cancel subscription.
  • All-access bundles start emerging in some markets.
  • Even though their importance for society is recognised by respondents to the survey, Public Service Media struggle to reach and engage with young audience, while being under financial pressure


Declining engagement, emerging behaviours of the younger audience and news avoidance are crucial challenges for the news industry that affect the role played by media in democratic societies and leave room for harmful dis/misinformation such as climate change denialism (which makes a ‘stark comeback’ on social media).

To conclude, the report stresses that "it will be more important than ever for journalism to stand out in terms of its accuracy, its utility, and its humanity" and identifies "innovation, flexibility and a relentless audience focus" as key ingredients for success.

Source: Reuters

Focus on national reports supported by media regulators: 

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