Monday, August 06, 2018

Reuters Digital News Report and News Literacy

In June the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published the 2018 Reuters Digital news report. It is based on research carried out by the market research organisation YouGov, with 74,000 respondents in 37 countries (in Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific) to an online questionnaire. There were also focus groups held in the USA, Germany, Brazil and the UK. A particular focus was trust and misinformation. Snippets from the main findings:
"Across all countries, the average level of trust in the news in general remains relatively stable at 44%, with just over half (51%) agreeing that they trust the news media they themselves use most of the time. By contrast, 34% of respondents say they trust news they find via search and fewer than a quarter (23%) say they trust the news they find in social media."
Elsewhere they note that the trend towards using social media for news seems to be declining for the first time. However use of some platforms, such as Whatsapp, has increased. Those in Finland and Portugal trusted the news most (both 62%), whilst, of the countries surveyed, Greece (26%) and South Korea (25%) had least trust.
There are some interesting observations in the report on the focus groups e.g. "Looking at our survey results, we find that when consumers talk about ‘fake news’ they are often just as concerned about poor journalism, clickbait, or biased/spun journalism. Indeed, this is the type of misrepresentation that they say they are most often exposed to (42%)." There is also insight into people's opinions on "alternative" news sites in the four different countries that had focus groups, and it seems like the type of "alternative site varies by country.
One section is on News Literacy ( which they calculated using three questions: Which of the following news outlets does not primarily depend on advertising for financial support? Which of the following is typically responsible for writing a press release? How are most of the individual decisions about what news stories to show people on Facebook made? (go to the site to see the options they provided). They then correlated the results with some of the other questions and discovered that: people with higher news literacy had a higher preference for newspapers and newspaper websites, are more likely to consider credibility indicators of news on social media, and consume news from a range of sources. They are also less likely to trust information from search engines and social media.
The section on disinformation and misinformation is also interesting ( with different proportions of people concerned about specific types of misinformation in different countries (the types that were asked about were: Stories where facts are twisted to push an agenda; Stories that are completely made up for commercial or political reasons; Poor journalism; The use of the term fake news to discredit news media; Headlines that look like news but turn out to be adverts; Satire). Another point was that people perceived misinformation offline, not just online: "It is striking that there is little difference in self-reported exposure to misinformation between those that mainly consume news offline and those that mainly consume news online (though in most cases exposure online is slightly higher). This runs counter to the frequent tendency in public discussions to associate misinformation with online media."
The whole report is at
Photo buy Sheila Webber: Palace Pier, July 2018

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