Some nuggets from the Digital News Report 2015

The Digital News Report 2015 (Oxford University / Reuters Institute) makes for interesting reading even if you don’t work online news and journalism. It’s like a snapshot of a cultural transition. Mobile is pinpointed as the major change driver, but not in the news apps you might expect, rather through social sharing and video.

There are plenty of fascinating insights in there, but one that really stood out to me is how drastically different the UK news market is from the rest of the world: because of the BBC.

In the UK, over half of smartphone news users (51%) regularly use the BBC News app, the only country where we see this level of reach.

This goes some way to explaining why large sections of the established old media want to see the BBC broken up – and why it’s important to defend it:

Many of the countries with the highest levels of trust also have well-funded public service broadcasters.

Away from old media, this is a BIG change:

Only in Japan is Facebook NOT the largest network for news.

I’d never really considered before how the passive exposure to news is greater on Facebook:

In Facebook the pursuit of news is secondary, with the main aim being communicating with friends. Twitter, on the other hand, is seen much more as an active destination for news by an audience that is deeply interested in latest developments.

The filter bubble also seems not to be an issue, with users (self-)reporting that this passive exposure means they see a broader range of news sources than they might otherwise choose:

Three-quarters of social media users (76%) and search users (73%) said they sometimes or frequently accessed different sources – leading them to brands they would not otherwise use.

I wonder how that compares between Facebook and Twitter. My instinctive presumption is that exposure is more narrow on Twitter as you’re more selective about following people whose views broadly follow your own, whereas on Facebook your choices are more dictated by family and friends – I know I would rarely be exposed to far-right material if it weren’t for my racist cousin…

There seems to be somewhat of a backlash against web advertising recently, perhaps brought on by the fact that so much of it is annoying, distracting and intrusive.

It is not surprising that many publishers are abandoning the old models in favour of new ‘native’ advertising or sponsored content.

Which is great… but for this:

A third or more say they have felt disappointed or deceived after reading an article they later found had been sponsored. Over a quarter feel less positively about the news brand as a result of sponsored content or native advertising.

If people don’t like sponsored content, and aren’t willing to sign up for paywalls, and don’t even like adverts at all in many cases, perhaps there’s scope for the growth of micropayments in the future.