Sorry TV Anchors, We Like Getting Our News From Social Media


A recent study suggests more than half of the world's population gets their daily dose of news from social networks.

According to the 2016 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter dominate the online news market, particularly among 18- to 24-year-olds.

But more than their easy access and prevalent usage, social networks have the added benefit of being free; users don't have to fork over their monthly salary to access information hidden behind a paywall.

In the US, the percentage of people paying for any online news in the last year fell from 11 percent to 9 percent, the Reuters Institute said. And in some cases, paid experiments (like the NYT Now app) reverted to free access, while other companies simply abandoned their paywalls in hopes of attracting more users.

Folks who do tap into original content, however, are increasingly inclined to block ads—at a rate of 10 percent (Japan) to 38 percent (Poland) across the world.

"The vast majority of those who have ever downloaded a blocker are using them regularly, suggesting that once downloaded people rarely go back," the Reuters Institute study said.

Only around 8 percent of smartphone users currently employ an ad blocker, but a third of respondents said they plan to install one within the next year.

Handsets are, unsurprisingly, the most popular way to consume news; computer use is falling, and tablet growth has flattened out. Television news, meanwhile, remains important—to older viewers.

Despite years of broadcasting, consumers remain resistant to online news videos: 78 percent of respondents still rely on text, which they consider quicker and more convenient (someone should tell Facebook). Besides, no one likes those pre-roll video advertisements.

"These … trends in combination are putting further severe pressure on the business models of both traditional publishers and new digital-born players—as well as changing the way in which news is packaged and distributed," Reuters Institute research associate Nic Newman said in the report.

"Almost everywhere we see the further adoption of online platforms and devices for news—largely as a supplement to broadcast but often at the expense of print," he added.

This year's study is based on a survey of more than 50,000 online news consumers in 26 countries.

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