In 2018, Vividata, in partnership with Kantar, released the Canadian Trust in News Study. This study examined how Canadians feel about their news sources in the era of “fake news,” their preferred and trusted sources, and the importance of quality journalism.
Results from this study present five key facts about the Canadian news audience, however, that are also likely fitting for other nations.
1. People have a strong interest in news.
Seven out of 10 Canadian adults identify as having a “strong interest” in news. Not surprisingly, this interest varies with age, but contrary to popular belief, even a majority of those 18-24 years old have a strong interest in news. This strong interest across age groups shows that news content continues to command consumer engagement.
With regard to the top three types of content Canadian news audiences have the most interest in, “news about my region, city, or town” takes the No. 1 spot, followed by “international news” and then “Canadian political news.”
2. News audiences use multiple sources for news.
The news audience is not loyal to one specific news brand. On average, Canadians access three different types of media for news throughout the week (e.g. newspapers, TV, radio, online, etc.). For printed national newspaper brand audiences specifically, this figure jumps to five sources — an indicator of a strong appetite for news among audiences of national newspaper brands.
Interest in the news is also on the rise among news audiences in general; one in four used a greater number of news sources in 2018 than they did in 2017. This trend is greater among younger audiences with 31% of those 18-24 years old recording an increase in sources used, illustrating that younger audiences are engaged by news content. However, this is likely driven more by current news items than by the brand delivering the news.
3. Audiences catch up on news daily, especially online.
Canadians frequent news outlets daily. Forty-eight percent of Canadian news audiences catch up on news several times a day using various sources. Another 37% do so at least once a day. Essentially every day, 85% of news audiences are actively consuming news content from various news media.
Online news is the leading medium for news audiences. Each week, 70% of Canadians access news from any online platform, including digital-only news outlets, social media, or newspaper, magazine, radio, or TV Web sites or applications. The rise of digital platforms continues to be driven by those in the 18-34 age range, with three quarters of them accessing news online.
4. Mobile and social are all about convenience.
With regard to accessing online news, it’s no surprise smartphones are the mobile device of choice. Smartphones provide an unparalleled digital experience. They provide a quicker, more integrated portal for accessing news through social media — currently the most popular way to access news online.
And for those who access news through social media, it is a lot about convenience. Social media users can read the news on the go and easily access a wide variety of sources, while also seeing what friends and other relations care about. But where social media gains in convenience, it lacks in trust.
5. Newspaper brands are trusted for quality commentary and analysis.
Though social media is the most used online news source, social media en masse is the least trusted source for news. And it’s important to note social media is an amalgamation of various content sources, including news brands.
Overall, daily newspaper brands are the most trusted source for in-depth commentary and analysis. This heritage of trust and a reputation for credible journalism in printed newspapers can be, and for many publishers is being, reflected in their digital offerings to good effect.
As newspaper brands continue to evolve, interest in news remains the same. Audiences are engaged. Yes, they want convenience, but they also want sources they can trust.