20 January 2020
In most regions, less than 10 percent of the people are willing to pay for news. Photo: AFP/Internet
In most regions, less than 10 percent of the people are willing to pay for news. Photo: AFP/Internet

Three new global trends in digital news media

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Oxford University have recently completed a survey on digital news media and consumption around the world. With respondents across six continents from over 30 countries, the report has identified three emerging trends in the development of digital media worldwide:

1. Pivot to paid

More and more digital news platforms have turned away from relying on online advertising income to focus on monthly subscriptions, membership systems and even public fundraising business models.

In the United States, the proportion of people who are willing to pay for news has remained at 16 percent for two consecutive years after a brief increase in 2017. In Northern Europe, the percentage is relatively higher, with 34 percent and 27 percent of people in Norway and Sweden respectively indicating that they are willing to pay for news. 

In most other regions, however, less than 10 percent are unwilling to pay for news.

2. Pivot to private

Another new trend in this sector is that a number of digital news providers have abandoned the “group function” in order to attend more closely to the needs of individual users.

The rise in the live broadcast of gun crimes has led to legislation for tighter online surveillance. Consequently, many people have come to doubt the validity of news posted on groups. Therefore, digital news media have turned to focus on the experience of individual users instead.

3. Pivot to audio

In many countries, the proportion of those receiving news via audio channels has risen to 15 percent, compared with those reading or watching news. And with the intensifying competition among artificial intelligence-powered devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, it is expected that the demand for audio news will continue to rise in the next year.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of the respondents indicated that they have avoided news broadcasts because of the emotional disturbance that the news triggers and a sense of helplessness that they experience towards those events.

Also, 62 percent of the respondents agreed that digital news media works well in releasing news immediately.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 20

Translation by Jennifer Wong

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ contributor