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Insights into the Future of News

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015 – Tracking the Future of News is their fourth annual report, and according to the forward by Dr. David A. L. Levy, Director, Reuters Institute, it looks to map the changing ecology of news across countries. The report is based on a survey of more than 20,000 people in 12 countries, which makes it the largest ongoing comparative study of news consumption in the world. It can be explored at www.digitalnewsreport.org.

This report and the data it compiles is interesting and important for publishing, and for the digital publishing industry in particular. It explores in depth the now central role being played by smartphones as news delivery devices, and the sharp increase in the use of social media for finding, sharing, and discussing the news.

The increasingly significant growth in the use of online video and other new visual formats have great implications for digital publishing, and the rising players in content distribution and social media should be studied and watched. New influencers are creating and distributing content in the industry and their staying power should be tracked.

Some of the key findings of the report that are important to the publishing industry include:

  • The increasing pace towards social and mobile news, a decline in desktop internet, and significant growth in video news consumption online.
  • Smartphone are becoming the defining device for digital news with a disruptive impact on consumption, formats, and business models.
  • The move to online video, new visual formats, and social media coincides in many countries with a fall in audiences for traditional TV broadcasts, with the trend based on age demographics.
  • Facebook is becoming a dominant force in finding, discussing and sharing news. Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp are playing a significant role with younger people.
  • There is an intensifying battle for global audiences online involving aggregators and global newspapers, new and old.
  • Consumer dissatisfaction with online advertising is very significant, and is being expressed through the increasing use of ad blockers.
  • People are also very concerned about the increasingly blurring lines between editorial and advertising, also known as content marketing.

According to the data, news accessed from smartphones and other mobile devices has jumped significantly over the last 12 months, particularly in the UK, US, and Japan. Statistics show that average weekly usage of mobile devices has grown from 37 to 46% across all our countries. Two-thirds of smartphone users (66%) are now using the devices for news every week. People in most countries say they are likely to access news via a mobile browser and people tend to use a small number of trusted news sources on the mobile phone.

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