Reuters Digital Media Report: News audiences prefer influencers and algorithms over journalists


show up a report The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism annual report on digital news found that only 22% of audiences initially get news from a website or app, down 10 points since 2018, while younger age groups prefer news through social media, search or news aggregation applications.

The report – which was released the day before yesterday, Tuesday – added that the public pays more attention to celebrities, influencers and well-known personalities on social media compared to journalists, and the majority of Tik Tok, Snapchat and Instagram users said that they pay more attention to influencers as a source of information. On the other hand, journalists retain the most prominent role on Facebook and Twitter, the two less popular networks among young people.

The Reuters Institute for Journalism Studies stated – in the report – that TikTok is the fastest growing among the means of communication, as 20% of those in the age group between 18 to 24 years use it for news, an increase of 5 percentage points from last year.

Less than half of respondents were interested in the news at all, down sharply from 6 in 10 in 2017.

In the report, Rasmus Nielsen, director of the institute affiliated with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said, “There is no logical basis to expect that millennials – who are only getting older – will suddenly prefer traditional websites on the Internet, let alone broadcast and print media.”

The Reuters Institute for Journalism Studies based its report on an online survey in which about 94,000 adults participated in 46 countries, including the United States. The research sample included several countries around the world, not including Arab countries.

Less than a third of respondents said choosing stories for them based on what they’ve seen before is a good way to get news, down 6 points from 2016 when the survey last asked the question.

And people still somewhat prefer to have news picked for them by algorithms than to be picked by editors or journalists.

Trust in the news fell by two percentage points last year, reversing gains made in many countries at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. On average, 40% say they trust most of the news they see most of the time.

The United States saw a 6 percentage point increase in trust in the news, to 32%, but remains among the lowest in the survey.

Fifty-six percent of respondents across all regions say they are concerned about their ability to tell real from fake news online, up two percentage points from a year ago.

The survey revealed that 48% say they are very or strongly interested in accessing news, down from 63% in 2017.

Reading and podcasting

The report dealt with the transformations of audience participation and interaction with the news, as there was a significant decrease in the percentages, and it was found that only 22% of the audience actively participate with the news (publishing or commenting on the news) and 31% interact by reading the news and placing likes or republishing it, while 47% do not interact % of the audience with the news at all, according to what was quoted magazine Press affiliated to Al Jazeera Media Institute.

It also appears that the majority of users of digital platforms still prefer reading the news rather than watching or listening to it, given that the written journalistic story makes them able to access information of interest to them faster, and it appears that news podcasts continue to spread among the educated and youth groups, but they are still a minority. Of the 34% of the audience that listens to at least one podcast per month, only 12% of them listen to a news podcast. In-depth news podcasts are the most consumed with video podcast consumption showing growth.

The time of influencers and celebrities

The report considered that “the younger generations who grew up on social networks often pay more attention to influencers or celebrities than they do to journalists, even when it comes to news.”

The lead author of the report, Nick Newman, mentioned several examples to Agence France-Presse, such as the young Englishman Matt Weiland, who presents topical topics and daily life issues to his 2.8 million subscribers on his account on the TikTok application.

Newman said that the matter may relate to “a famous personality talking about an issue that has been made to the news of the hour,” referring to the digital campaign carried out by British footballer Marcus Rashford in 2020 to distribute free meals to children of poor families.

For the TikTok generation, the word โ€œnewsโ€ has a much broader meaning than its traditional concept of politics and international relations.

news shifts

The Reuters Institute stated – in a study issued last year – that news in the eyes of young people “means anything new in any sector, such as sports, entertainment, celebrity news, current events, culture, arts, technology and others.”

The tyranny of influencers is the most prominent result of the reversal of the order of importance between communication networks, as traditional sites such as Facebook seem outdated and in retreat in front of video-based applications and networks such as TikTok, and YouTube owned by the Alphabet Group, the parent company of the American giant Google, Instagram and Snapchat. And young people turn to this second category of applications, even to follow the news.

Only 28% of respondents in 2023 reported that they get their information from Facebook, compared to 42% in 2016.

This is due to two factors, the first is Facebook’s “moving away” from the news sector, which seems to be no longer a strategic priority for it, and the second is that video-based networks “are increasingly capturing the attention of younger people.”

Among these networks, the TikTok application “is witnessing the strongest growth”, as 20% of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 use it as a source for accessing information, an increase of 5% from the year 2022.

showed Previous report Publishers are also concerned about the public’s lack of interest in what the media publishes, including press coverage of important and unpleasant events such as the Russian war on Ukraine.

A number of publishers have shown interest in paid subscriptions for content, and in obtaining revenues from technology companies in return for licensing the publication of content.

Overall, the report stated that our “reliance on these media” to access news is “steadily increasing” due to the habits of younger generations born into the shadow of social networks.

It is increasingly rare for users to access a news site directly, but more often through a social network, despite the risks of misinformation.

However, Filipino journalist Maria Resa – who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 – criticized this report, which represents a reference tool for analyzing transformations in the media sector.

And Raisa – in statements reported by the British newspaper The Guardian – contradicted the methodology used in the report, which sets an indicator of trust in the media for each country separately.

It believed that this methodology does not take into account the “media disinformation” practiced by authoritarian regimes against independent media, which may harm its image, according to the respondents.


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Reuters Digital Media Report: News audiences prefer influencers and algorithms over journalists

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