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Digital news trends: opportunities for independent news

Image by Markus Spiske
What are the key digital trends for the independent news sector? Changing business models, perceptions of trust, the value of independent journalism, and building news habits are some of the variables to look out for.

As part of the PINF professional development programme (summer 2020), Nic Newman, Senior Research Associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), joined publishers to discuss the findings of the Digital News Report 2020 and to give an overview of the current shape of the journalism market in the UK and beyond.

Changing business models for news:

  • More people are paying for online news, with a majority now paying for digital-only subscriptions

  • Nearly half of subscriptions are going to a few big national brands, but some consumers combine with subscriptions to local or specialist titles

  • 64% in the UK subscribe to an outlet because of “distinctive content”.

  • 58% subscribe because of “convenience/price”.

  • 39% subscribe to “support journalism”.

  • 30% said they would consider subscribing if it were cheaper or more flexible, while 14% said they would consider it if it were ad-free.

  • 50% said nothing could convince them to subscribe.

  • Donations and memberships are on the rise: due to desire to support independent media, guilt or to be part of a cause.

Trust and the value of independent or local journalism:

  • 31% in the UK say they are very or extremely interested in local news:

    • Local news is more trusted than national news.

    • There is increasing competition from social media, especially with younger people.

    • 25% of readers say they would miss their local paper ‘a lot’ if it were to disappear.

  • Trust in the news is down across the board, with a big fall amongst those who identify as being on the political left in the UK.

  • Young people are less committed to news 'without a point of view'.

Social media platforms and new news delivery methods:

  • YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram are the fastest growing social media platforms for news.

  • We may be seeing a resurgence of the popularity of editorial curation with email newsletters and podcasts growing in numbers.

You can read more about the latest digital news trends for news on the Digital News Report 2020 by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Questions? Comments? Contributions? If you'd like to share your views or experience on this topic with the PINF team, get in touch.

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