Digital News Report 2016

| 25 augusti 2016

An increasing move to mobile phones, growing importance of social media for news, and a reluctance to pay for news online. These are some of the findings in the Digital News Report 2016, covering 26 countries including Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has published its fifth annual report, looking to track and compare changes in online news consumption across countries.

Its scope has been expanded from 12 to 26 countries, for the first time also covering Norway and Sweden. The key focus is Europe, even though Canada, South Korea, the US, Brazil and Japan are included.

In Sweden, smartphone most common device for news
Smartphone usage for news is sharply up, reaching more than half of the global sample1) on a weekly basis. Sweden tops the list, with almost seven of ten using their mobile phone to read news. In Sweden, it is now more common to access news from a smartphone than from a computer or laptop, a pattern shared with South Korea and Switzerland.

Devices for news (per cent)

Survey question: Which, if any, of the following devices have you used to access news in the last week? Base: Total sample in each country. Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2016

Mobile devices are popular for accessing news throughout the Nordic region. Around six of ten Finns, Danes and Norwegians use a smartphone to access news each week, which ranks them among the top ten countries. Around one-third of the Nordic news consumers use a tablet for news, making them the most avid users in the survey, with Denmark in the lead.

In Denmark, social media as main source has doubled
Across the sample, half say they use social media as a source of news each week. Around one in ten says it is their main source. In Denmark, 12 per cent say social media is their main source for news, which is up from 6 per cent the previous year. Finland is the country where the least people (5 per cent) cite social media as their main news source, which is stable compared to 2015.

Facebook is by far the most important network for finding, reading/ watching, and sharing news in all countries. In the four Nordic countries, Facebook has a dominant position (from 45 per cent in Norway down to 34 per cent in Finland). It is followed by other global networks, with the exception of Finland where a domestic chat and discussion forum, Suomi24, enters the top-five list, ranking fifth with 5 per cent using it to read news every week.

Branded websites important for the Nordics
The report shows very different patterns of online news access across the countries. In countries like Norway, Finland, and Denmark, branded websites or apps are often the starting point for any news journey (around 60 per cent), while a search engine is the key gateway in places like Italy and Spain, and social media is strong in, e.g., Greece and Hungary. Mobile alerts are increasingly important, and the Swedes are among their most avid users (16 per cent).

The highest level of online payment in Norway
Most consumers are still reluctant to pay for general news online, particularly in the highly competitive English-speaking world (9 per cent average). The most willing to pay are the Norwegians, of whom 27 per cent have paid (anything) for online news in the last year. Sweden (20 per cent), Finland and Denmark (both 15 per cent) have among the highest level of online payment as well.

One in four uses ad blocker in the Nordic region
Parallel with the difficulties in getting consumers to pay for news online is the rise of ad-blocking. It is currently running at between 10 per cent (Japan) and 38 per cent (Poland), but figures are much higher amongst under-35s and people who consume news the most. In the Nordic countries, approximately 25 per cent of the sample use ad blockers. Looking at people under the age of 35, this is around 40 per cent in each of the four countries.

More key findings
Read the full report to learn more about key findings, such as: online news video apparently growing more slowly than might be expected (lowest levels in Denmark); a high level of variation in the extent to which news is trusted across the 26 countries (highest trust in Finland); and significant generational patterns, whereby online access and use is more important for the younger age groups than for the elderly.

Digital News 2016, full report online
Finnish country report, University of Tampere (in Finnish)
Danskernes brug av nyhedsmedier 2016, RUC Roskilde University (PDF in Danish, published in Feb 2017)

1) Important to note about the survey sample: Because this survey deals with news consumption, anyone indicating they had not consumed any news during the past month was filtered out. The report is based on an online survey – and as such the results will underrepresent the consumption habits of people who are not online (typically older, less affluent, and with limited formal education). The core purpose of the survey is to track activities and changes over time within the digital space – as well as to gain an understanding of how offline and online media are used together. The research was conducted by YouGov, using an online questionnaire at the end of January/beginning of February 2016.