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The State of the News in the States

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015 – Tracking the Future of News is their fourth annual report, and it maps 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.

The report offers a country-based view of the findings, which includes a brief overview of media characteristics and the most important data points in terms of digital news, and some statistics about the U.S. market are very interesting.

It is no secret that the US media environment is highly commercial, highly competitive, and increasingly fragmented. The legacy enterprises of print, radio and television are in stiff competition with the first generation digital media players such as Yahoo and Huffington Post, which are in turn facing a challenge from even newer entities in social media like BuzzFeed and Upworthy, and the developing interest in news and publishing by the big players like Facebook and Twitter.

As the report illustrates, the market keeps evolving at an ever-increasing pace, changed by new, exciting and agile companies like Vice, new joint ventures like ABC and Univision’s Fusion, and new product launches like New York Times’ Now mobile app.

The data proves what has been known in the industry for quite a while; it is still a difficult time for legacy media. The fact remains that people in the United States don’t like paying for news, and not many people actually do. The numbers show stagnant numbers with almost no overall growth since at least 2013.

Some interesting statistics include:

The top social networks used weekly for news:
Facebook 40%
YouTube 16%
Twitter 11%
Google+ 5%
Reddit 4%
32% of American digital news readers share a news story via email or social media.
26% say the smartphone is their main way of accessing online news
10% say that say the tablet is their main way of accessing online news
11% paid for online news in 2014

Although audiences of all ages and demographics still consume the majority of their online news from familiar and trusted brands, the way they access that content is changing. Some very interesting findings have to do with the role of search queries and social media as gateways to drive traffic either to or around homepages, and the role that social networks play in offering content.

Read the full report at www.digitalnewsreport.org.

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