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General decline in consumption and sharing of news in India: report – The Hindu

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June 14, 2023 05:08 pm | Updated 06:06 pm IST – New Delhi
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Television saw a 10pp decline as a news source, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023. Image for representation purpose only. File | Photo Credit: AP
Overall consumption and sharing of news declined in India compared with last year, along with a sharp decrease in access to online news (-12 percentage points) while television, too, saw a 10pp decline as a news source, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2023, released on June 14.
The 12th edition of the report, produced in collaboration with the Asian College of Journalism, surveys the news consumption habits of consumers across 46 markets.
As per the report, India registered a small decrease of 3 pp (38%) in overall trust in news compared to last year, and was ranked 24th among 46 countries in this regard. Finland remained the country with the highest levels of overall trust in news (69%) while Greece had the lowest levels of trust (19%), globally.
“Among individual news brands, public broadcasters like DD India, All India Radio, and BBC News retained high levels of trust among survey respondents in India, emphasising the importance of public service media,” the report noted. YouTube was the most preferred social media platform for news with 56% of the respondents accessing it.
WhatsApp (47%) and Facebook (39%) were the next two preferred social media platforms for news in India among the survey respondents. Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi daily, featured among the top ten brands accessed both online and offline by the survey respondents.
Globally, the report found that “video-based content, distributed via networks such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are becoming more important for news, especially in parts of the Global South, while legacy platforms such as Facebook are losing influence.”
Barely 28% of respondents said they accessed news via Facebook in 2023, compared with 42% in 2016. Part of the reason for this, the report observed, was Facebook pulling back from news at the same time that YouTube and TikTok began to attract larger chunks of young audiences. On the other hand, news usage for the other social media giant, Twitter, remained relatively stable following Elon Musk’s takeover, with the usage of alternative networks such as Mastodon extremely low.
The fastest-growing social network used by the survey respondents for any purpose was TikTok (used by 44% of 18-24-year-olds), with 20% of them using it for news. The Chinese-owned app was most heavily used in parts of Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Interestingly, and worryingly for traditional media, the survey found that users of TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat paid more attention to celebrities and social media influencers than they did to journalists and media companies when it came to news topics. This was in sharp contrast to legacy social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, where news organisations still attracted the most attention and led conversations. In a related finding, the report also noted that “stated preferences by audiences to directly visit news websites continue to decline”. Globally, “the proportion that say their main access point is via a news website or app has fallen from 32% in 2018 to 22% in 2023,” while dependence on social media access for news has grown from 23% to 30%, the report noted.
Summing up this trend, Mr. Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, the Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism observed, “Younger generations increasingly eschew direct discovery for all but the most appealing brands. They have little interest in many conventional news offers oriented towards older generations’ habits, interests, and values, and instead embrace the more personality-based, participatory, and personalised options offered by social media, often looking beyond legacy platforms to new entrants, many of whom drive few referrals to media organisations and do not prioritise news”.
The report also found that news podcasting continued to resonate with educated and younger audiences though it remained a minority activity overall. About 34% of the respondents accessed a podcast monthly, while 12% accessed a show on news and current affairs.
The report also flagged a continuing trend — which it highlighted in last year’s report as well — of news avoidance (partly for mental health-related reasons) in a large number of countries. Among news avoiders, around half (53%) tried to avoid all news periodically, while 32% tended to avoid “difficult topics”.
For this report, the Asian College of Journalism provided support in identifying news brands and other specific details relevant to the Indian market in the survey questionnaire, verifying the Hindi translation of the questionnaire, and contextualising the main findings for India in its country profile.
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