This is a guest post from Denise Turner, insight director at Newsworks in London, United Kingdom.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that we live in an increasingly digital age, and there are more opportunities to consume media content than ever before.
To adapt to this new landscape, media brands thought of as traditional now also exist within the digital space as Web sites, in apps, and on social media. These can all be accessed and interacted with across a variety of technological platforms whenever and wherever a consumer wants.
It is in that context that newspapers have evolved to become news brands, expanding from their traditional print format to tablet, mobile, and online as well. As such, they are now competing much more directly for the news consumer, who has a whole eco-system of providers to choose from.
For Newsworks’ latest research project, Generation News (conducted in partnership with the University of Bath and research companies Flamingo and Tapestry), we set out to explore the role of news brands in this connected age, and dispel the myth that they no longer have a role now that our culture is saturated with free news.
We found four very positive effects for news brands:
1. An increased desire for news.
Saturation has led to expectation – somewhere something is always happening and we need to know about it.
Digital news habits satisfy the expectation, with both younger and older people enjoying the speed and ease with which they can access the news. No longer do people have to wait for the latest update on that news story. They can track it in almost real time – unlike 200 years ago, when the people of England had to wait two weeks for news of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.
2. An increased authority for news brands.
We found that this saturation of news has not diminished news brands’ role but has instead strengthened it: In a world awash with news, it can be difficult to understand what you need to know and what to believe.
News brands not only provide more trusted “real” and “professional” journalism, they also provide a sense of completeness and satisfaction by providing everything you need to know.
They continue to provide an important lens on the world.
3. New news brand habits are being formed.
The digital age has opened up news brands to new audiences, both young and old. While many young people are still introduced to news brands by their parents or work, others are increasingly meeting them online via posts or recommendations on social media.
In fact, 73% of people 18-34 years old agree they visit a news brand Web site to get more information when they see an interesting story on social media.
If Millennials frequently encounter a news brand with a “lens” that chimes with their own developing identity, they follow and explore its platforms in different contexts. This news brand then becomes a key go-to brand at the centre of their news eco-system.
Similarly, as older people embrace new digital platforms, they are discovering more ways to access news and developing new news brand habits.
4. A fresh relevance for the printed paper.
We’re all wrestling with the consequences of the digital overload: As newsfeed dependency has grown, so too has the desire to take a (temporary) break from the digital grasp.
As we spend an increasing amount of time in the day looking at screens, print offers a chance to disconnect. Where it feels like the world is constantly in flux, print provides a sense of finite news and the possibility for a more complete world view. Where the news category continues to expand in sources and modes of consumption, print helps put some constrain on the world; it puts white lines around the digital chatter.
And this was true for younger people too. Rather than viewing the newspaper as “dead-tree” media, they value the newsprint experience because it provides benefits to them that no other platform does.
Overall, the study showed that news brands remain addictive across generations, with young people relying on them as much as their parents do for a balanced and informed view.
Yes, we live in a world saturated with news. But this is making the professional journalism news brands produce all the more important in providing a trusted lens on the world, for young and old, while the rise of digital devices means that there are more routes into news brands than ever before.