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14 June 2018

Only 12 Per Cent Trust News on Social Media in UK

The 2018 Reuters Digital News Report has shown that only 12 per cent of people in the UK trust news on social media, with the use of social media for news in the UK falling by two per cent.

Launched today, the report which surveyed more than 74,000 people in 37 countries about their digital news consumption found that 54 per cent of UK respondents trust the news they use, with the report attributing the fall in social media for news “to a specific decline in the discovery, posting, and sharing of news in Facebook.”

The UK appeared far more sceptical of trusting news from social media (12 per cent) versus 23 per cent around the world, and according to the report this was in part due to recent investigations into tech platforms: “The UK media have played a leading part in exposing the shortcomings of tech companies over internet safety, privacy, and ‘fake news’. Meanwhile, politicians are looking into misinformation and the role of platforms in undermining journalism… Pressure for some kind of regulation is growing.”

More people in the UK pay for online news than last year (seven per cent), particularly those under the age of 45, although the UK is considerably behind other countries. The report notes: “The Telegraph has put most of its premium content behind a paywall, and is looking to increase revenue from personal finance and technology. The Guardian relaunched as a tabloid in January and refocused its online strategy on donations and membership. It says it has 800,000 paying supporters; reader revenue now outstrips advertising; losses have halved in the last financial year, and it is hoping to break even by 2019... And The Times and Sunday Times have more than 450,000 print and digital customers, plus 2m registered users who have exchanged email addresses for a limited number of free articles.”

Speaking earlier at the launch of the report, NMA chair and News UK COO - David Dinsmore outlined what publishers wanted from the duopoly. He said: “A fair value exchange. In many ways publishers have got themselves into this position by giving away content so freely over the last 10-20 years but as the world rights itself and we understand that volume in itself is not the answer... that brands bring great loyalty and build huge communities underneath them, that we also must understand that when we do put our content on to platforms and platforms are taking all the revenue from that, that there should be a value exchange coming back the other way. It is incredibly difficult, we’re not saying there is an easy answer to this.

“The good thing is the content has never been more popular than it is now and that’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. Particularly for newspapers and newsbrands, we still set the agenda every day. It is the first thing that is reviewed on the TV, the first thing that is talked about on the radio, it’s what social media is based upon.

“I saw some stat that said 55 per cent of conversations on social media come from newspapers, but we are the people who are on the streets digging that news up. It’s like the coal miner who goes down and digs up the coal, gets to the surface and somebody nicks the coal. That’s the bit we’ve got to try to fix.”

Mr Dinsmore also discussed the challenges faced by local media and the attempts to safeguard the future of the industry. He said: "The regional and local publishers in the UK are in really testing times and because most of their classified advertising has just disappeared. Where are we going to get that news coverage that supports local democracy and in turn supports national democracy – is a real question that we have got to solve in this country.

"The Cairncross Review which is being carried out into the sustainability of the press will probably publish in the early months of next year which will bring a lot of the thinking together. We are at this pivot point now, I think the pressure is growing on the platforms and the pressure growing on publishers. We’ll be talking a lot more about what we do and the sustainability of the industry and what the future news landscape looks like."

The Digital News Report 2018 was commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Research was conducted by YouGov using an online questionnaire in Jan/Feb 2018. The report’s authors note that, because it was an online survey, the results will under-represent the consumption habits of people who are not online.