According to a report released on Tuesday by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, there has been a 10-point decline since 2018 in the number of people globally who initially access news through a website or app. The report highlights that younger age groups prefer accessing news through social media, search engines, or mobile aggregators. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are capturing more attention from audiences, with celebrities, influencers, and social media personalities garnering greater interest than journalists. TikTok, in particular, has experienced significant growth and is now used for news by 20 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, a five-percentage-point increase from the previous year.
The report also reveals a decline in overall interest in news, with fewer than half of the survey respondents expressing significant interest. In 2017, six out of ten respondents showed interest in news, but that number has sharply decreased. Rasmus Nielsen, Director of the Reuters Institute, states in the report that there is little reason to expect younger generations born in the 2000s to gravitate towards traditional websites, broadcasting, or print media as they grow older.
The survey, conducted online among approximately 94,000 adults in 46 markets, including the U.S., sheds light on changing news consumption habits. It indicates that less than a third of respondents believe that having news stories selected for them based on their previous consumption is a favorable approach, marking a six-point decline from 2016. However, people still slightly prefer algorithm-selected news over news curated by editors or journalists.
Trust in the news has also seen a decline, with a two-percentage-point drop in the last year, reversing the gains observed during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in many countries. On average, 40 percent of respondents express trust in news most of the time. Although the United States experienced a six-point increase in trust, reaching 32 percent, it remains among the lowest in the survey.
The survey further reveals that 56 percent of respondents worry about discerning real news from fake news on the internet, a two-percentage-point increase from the previous year. Overall, the percentage of people with a high level of interest in news has declined from 63 percent in 2017 to 48 percent.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is funded by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters.