The Digital News Report 2021 raises questions about the future of news organizations

Image via Reuters Institute

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published their 2021 Digital News Report. The report is based on a YouGov survey of over 92000 online news consumers in 46 countries and the whole report can be downloaded here.

A summary of the most important findings in the 2021 Digital News Report:

  • After recent periods of decline, the overall trust in the news has increased in the last year, with 44% of the total sample saying they trust most news most of the time. However, the U.S. has the lowest level of overall trust in the survey (26%) and Black and Hispanic audiences and younger women in the U.S. feel that news coverage is unfair to them.
  • Familiar and trusted new brands continue to attract more attention, especially in those countries with strong and independent public service media. However, particularly young people have weaker ties to traditional news media. There are less likely to visit a news website or app directly but are more likely to find news via social media.
  • The pandemic has also heightened awareness about misleading or false information. In the survey, 54% of news consumers say they have seen misinformation about COVID-19 in the previous week. Those who use social media are more likely to say they have been exposed to misinformation about the pandemic than non-users.
  • Although reliable and trustworthy news media is very important these days, the industry has been hard hit by the pandemic, leading to job cuts in news organizations worldwide. There has been a significant increase in payment for online news in a smaller number of richer Western countries, while the overall percentage of people paying for online news remains low.

This survey is very important, as it draws attention to some of the biggest problems in media and news organizations. It gives added urgency for a more diverse and inclusive newsroom, as well as showing how important it is to spread awareness for misinformation, in social media in particular. Furthermore, the survey raises the question about the future financing of news organizations.

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