Digital News Report 2022 presents trends in global news consumption

In partnership with the University of Oxford, the Reuters Institute has again published its annual Digital News Report to provide insight into the changing way news is accessed. The research also addressed issues of trust and misinformation, trends in audience disengagement, and changing engagement with news.

The 2022 report is based on survey data from 93,432 online news consumers in 46 markets, representing more than half of the world’s population. Around 2,000 participants per country were interviewed and countries that have a democratic orientation were selected.

“The need for reliable information, careful context, and considered debate has seldom been greater than it is today, but so has the desire for stories that inspire and give hope for a better future,” the editors summarize in a statement.

However, a key finding is a general declining interest in news: “Despite the tremendous difference that independent, professional journalism can make when it comes to helping people understand the world beyond personal experience, we see a declining interest in news , lower trust – after a positive push last year – and an increase in active news avoidance in some groups. Many people believe that the media is subject to undue political influence, and only a small minority believe that most news organizations put what is best for society ahead of their own commercial interests,” said report co-author and director of the Reuters Institute Rasmus Kleis Nielsen in the foreword.

Image: Interest in News / Digital News Report 2022

Especially for younger target groups – i.e. consumers under 30 – this means relying more on social media than on traditional media, as they have different ideas about what constitutes good journalism.

While the manner in which these developments are manifesting themselves around the world is not uniform, both trends – a weakening of the link between journalism and much of the public and younger people who use media non-traditionally – are common in almost every observed countries. A total of eleven markets in Asia, five in South America, three each in Africa and North America and 24 in Europe were examined.

compared to the previous year

The 2021 Digital News Report contained some positive signs for the news industry, with higher consumption and rising confidence amid a second wave of coronavirus lockdowns. Many traditional news outlets seemed to benefit not only from the increased exposure, but also financially, as more people subscribed online and advertisers wanted to connect with reliable content.

“One year later, the picture is a little less optimistic. As a group of primarily upscale news publishers around the world reports record digital subscription numbers and rising revenues, we find that interest in news and overall news consumption has declined significantly in many countries, while trust has declined almost everywhere – albeit it is usually higher than before the start of the corona crisis,” summarizes Nic Newman, co-author and researcher at the Reuters Institute.

“We’re also noticing that a news fatigue is setting in – not just in relation to Covid-19, but also in relation to politics and a range of other issues – with a significant increase in the number of those actively avoiding the news,” adds Newman.

Since the main data set was collected in early February 2022, i.e. before Russia invaded Ukraine, a second survey in five countries was necessary. This was conducted in early April and revealed “another level of selective avoidance, even in countries like Poland and Germany directly affected by the conflict,” according to the report. The event itself initially led to a significant increase in news consumption across all news sources.

This year’s data confirms how the various shocks of recent years – climate change, coronavirus and the invasion of Ukraine – have further accelerated the shift towards a more digital, mobile and platform-dominated media environment, with further implications for journalism business models and formats the report.

Overall, consumption of traditional media such as television and print media has continued to decline in almost all markets (before the invasion of Ukraine) over the past year, with online and social media consumption not being able to fill the gap.

“While the majority remain highly engaged, others are turning their backs on the news media and, in some cases, disassociating themselves from the news altogether. Interest in news has fallen sharply across all markets, from 63 percent in 2017 to 51 percent in 2022,” the research found.

News as a mood dampener

At the same time, the proportion of consumers who say they avoid the news often or sometimes has risen sharply in all countries. “This type of selective avoidance has doubled in both Brazil (54 percent) and the UK (46 percent) over the past five years, with many respondents saying news has a negative impact on their mood,” says the report .

In addition, a significant proportion of younger and less educated respondents reported avoiding the news because it was difficult to follow or understand. This suggests, the research found, that news media could do much more to simplify language and better explain or contextualize complex stories.

False and misleading information remains a cause for concern.

More information on the Digital News Report 2022 can be found on the Reuters website.