Research: Two-thirds of UK appreciate journalism more since pandemic

By Lorna White

MediaCom

London, United Kingdom

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With COVID-19 globally dominating headlines for almost a year, the relationship with news brands has become ever-more important.

Newsworks’ recent analysis found nearly 70% of people younger than 35 agree that “I find myself checking the news whenever I get a spare moment in the day.” Many confirmed news brands are their top source of news content on social media. The increasing need for trusted and quality content is also reflective with the “rise of misinformation and fake news,” so many consumers are scrutinising what they read.

COVID-19 and the rise of misinformation have made it clear that trusted news sources are important to readers.
COVID-19 and the rise of misinformation have made it clear that trusted news sources are important to readers.

Australia is proposing introducing a code where Google would pay for news content. Additionally, last week Facebook News was rolled out in the United Kingdom, which allows publishers to be paid for their content. These are signs of an industry relationship that places publishing at the top of the agenda, which shows the importance of a fairly funded news industry.

The Newsworks research shows the continued desire for news as we move into 2021:

  • News plays an increasingly vital role in our lives, and we are consuming more news, more often, and across more platforms.
  • Two-thirds of the UK population appreciates journalism more since the pandemic began, and 70% agree that a world without journalism would harm democracy.
  • News brands help us to “calibrate.” This is a highly influential environment for a brand to be present as it’s where we seek to form and change our opinions.
  • For those younger than 35, news brands make up a bigger share of news consumption than any other source. They are more likely to change their opinion or behaviour after reading a news story.
  • Social media is viewed as being based on too much opinion. According to respondents: “I feel less anxious when I read a newspaper compared to checking stories on social media.”

Having seen COVID-19 fuel an appetite for news across 2020 and into 2021, we’re also seeing non-coronavirus content provides an increasingly needed light relief. As COVID-19 fatigue set in, many news outlets saw a positive performance from content verticals, which showed readers also wanted any relief and good news stories they could find.

Alongside huge digital appetite and growth (driven by mobile), physical newspaper delivery is also growing. Recent data demonstrated loyal readers are still purchasing their newspapers every day.

There has clearly been an approach by news brands to surface and optimise content so it is as useful, uplifting, and entertaining as possible, with increased puzzle pages, parenting advice, and “how-to” guides.

Overall, it’s clear news brands provide stability and readers trust the content, so they remain an important environment for advertisers. Their credibility helps guide consumers in a world where reassurance is very much needed. News brands continue to update, educate, and distract both in physical paper form and online.

About Lorna White

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