Digital News Report 2017

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The “Reuters Institute Digital News Report” was released last week with some very interesting results. The report covers ore than forty different countries researching the extent of media usage in that country and, more specifically, digital usage when it comes to sources of news.

It’s a huge endeavour and the Institute very kindly gave me a copy of the raw data to fool around with. You can have a look at the broader results here. Below I’d looked at our own media and pulled out some data that I thought was of interest (each to their own!).

The report makes a distinction between “online” and “offline” sources – and in places where a brand has a foot in either camp, we can look at the brand’s footprint.

In terms of the ‘traditionalists’, the graphic below shows the reach of the offline media using metrics of last week and the past three days. Based on the three-day metric, RTE Television news has a reach of 38% followed by RTE radio of 21%. Sky has a reasonable representation at 21% followed by BBC news. The first print medium to grace the chart is the Irish Independent at 14%.

The offline brands showed that the ‘digital first’ is giving a run for its money. The profile of the was younger with (three days) 26% of its audience coming from the U35 age demographic compared to 19% for – you could read into that surmising that the audience is composed to some of its previous print readers and that the is more a digital first audience (note: there’s a strict ban on the use of ‘millennial’ and other such hackneyed expressions in this meandering). RTE came in third at 19% followed by the Irish Times at 13%.

Looking at where we currently get our news, it really depended on your age. As a homogenous group of citizens, we get the main stay of our news from television at 22% followed by social media at 16%. However, if you are under thirty-five, then most frequently cited source was ‘social media’.

But even at that 35% of the population said that they ‘came across’ news on social media – the research didn’t say it was a deterministic process where they, say, went on to Facebook to seek out the news. The U35’s had a higher propensity to use social media and web site/apps showing a definite digital bias.


Just to add to that, a look at exactly how people came across news:

The long term model for subscription based media looks particularly grim. Only 9% of respondents in Ireland said that that had paid for content last year – that’s subscriptions or one off payments. Across the research of forty countries, that paid for news metric varies considerably. The highest was Turkey with 27% of the respondents claiming to have paid for news last year. The lowest was the UK at 6%. Ireland ranked thirty out of the forty-one countries with 13% being the half way point.


So, not only is the 9% a paltry uptake on subscriptions thus far, the future is bleak with only 11% with any inkling to go down the subscription route in the future. But, you’d have to suggest, that the publishers have painted a potential audience into this ‘non-subscription’ corner themselves. The uptake in some countries are high in comparison (Norway 26%, Brazil 22%, Sweden 20% for example) but there could be a huge number of variables behind those high uptakes – with no real direct comparison to Ireland.

When asked why they wouldn’t be prepared to ‘pay for news’ more than half the respondents said that they didn’t have to as publishers gave it away free. Coupled with that were 23% of the survey who said that their favorite medium didn’t currently charge for access.


Any now my Hooveresque attempt to weed out the ‘Reds under the Bed’. In the survey respondents we asked to place themselves on a political spectrum from left to right. The vast majority, 60%, planted themselves in the ‘centre’, 17% on the ‘left’ and 7% on the ‘right’.

So it’s interesting (if not just novel) to see the political leanings and choice of media. Looking at the online media, as the main source, it shows that the and have more of a leaning to the left than the other sites (top ten).

Turning to the ‘offline’ media, of those who watched CNN as one of their main choices of news, 23% said they were more on the left than right. The table is limited to the top ten media in terms of overall reach and then sorted. CNN is 10th on the reach list. One that caught my attention was the Sunday Business Post. Although the numbers are small (possibly too small), some 43% of those who said that the SBP was one of their main sources of news chalked themselves up in the ‘left’ grouping.


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