July 10, 2012

Social Media Becoming Top News Source For Many

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Social media is the top news source for Britons aged 16 to 24, with 43% getting their news from Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, according to the first Reuters Institute Digital Report.

By comparison, just 11% of those over the age of 45 turned to social media for news, preferring instead to use search engines for online news, the report revealed.

The Reuters report is based on a study of how news is being consumed in the United Kingdom, with a particular emphasis on digital news consumption and devices used to access the news. It is based on surveys of people in the UK, along with participants in France, Germany, Denmark, and the U.S. to provide an international comparison on key measures, Reuters said.

Facebook is the most popular social networking site on which to share news, with 55 percent preferring to share their news on the site, followed by email at 33%, and Twitter at 23%.

Relatively few people reported using Google+ or LinkedIn to share news, Reuters said.

There are significant differences in how consistently people keep up with the news in different countries, the report found. For instance, Europeans are generally less interested than Americans in sharing the news, or in otherwise engaging with others online, the study found.

“The rapid switch from print to digital in the United States is not being replicated exactly in European countries,” the report read.

Germans showed the strongest allegiance to traditional viewing and reading habits, and has the lowest levels of Internet news use.

British readers reported higher interest in science and technology news (23%) than business and financial news (19%), and news about politics is perceived to be less important — and celebrity news more important — compared to the other countries surveyed, Reuters said.

However, there is greater interest in business, particularly economic, news in Britain and the U.S. than in the other European countries surveyed.

Not surprisingly, young British Internet turned to online sources for their news most frequently, while television is the most popular news source among older groups.

“In general those who´ve grown up with the Internet are showing markedly different consumption habits online. They discover and share more news through social networks and show less loyalty to traditional media platforms,” the report read.

Smartphones are becoming a major player in news consumption, with one-third of Danish Internet users accessing stories via a connected mobile phone every week. More than a quarter of those in the U.S. and Britain do the same, according to the report.

Tablet devices are also a growing platform on which to access news, with 58% of British tablet owners using the device to access news every week. These tablet owners are also more likely to pay for news content, and more than 40% say they find the experience better than a PC.

In general, consumers are resistant to the idea of paying for digital news, with propensity to pay for online news the lowest in the Britain (4%). Denmark had the highest percentage of users willing to pay for their news (12%).

The study found that Germans are most interested in regional news, while people in the U.S. are far more interested in local news.

Britons and Germans are devoted followers of sports, while French respondents reported their highest interest in news about art and culture. Respondents in Denmark reported the greatest interest in international news (65%) while Britons and Americans show the least (48% and 44%, respectively).