More than a third of UK news consumers are actively avoiding the news, reveals poll

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13th June 2019 13:06 - Media and PR

More than a third of UK news consumers are actively avoiding the news: A major study by news agency, Reuters, has found 35% of news consumers in the UK are actively avoiding reading, watching or listening to the news. This is up 11 percentage points since the question was last asked in 2017. 

The poll found that the reason why seven out of 10 people in the UK were avoiding the news was because of Brexit coverage, which the report said was causing them "boredom, anger or sadness". This was followed by politics in general (35%), and sports news (28%).

Many open-ended responses collected in the study also revealed a deep frustration over Brexit.  

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019, questioned 75,000 news consumers across 38 markets, 24 of which are in Europe but also including seven in Asia, four in Latin America, as well as the US, Canada and for the first time, South Africa.

Overall it found that 32% respondents globally avoided the news, a rise of 3 percentage points two years ago. News avoidance was found to be highest in Croatia (56%), Turkey (55%), and Greece (54%) with over half of respondents admitting to intentionally trying to disengage. The poll found that it was at its lowest rate in Japan (11%) where reading the news is 'often seen as a duty', according to the report.

Now in its 8th year, the annual Reuters report provides new insights into how people feel about the news media and how they use it in key areas including subscription services and private messaging.

Trusting the media

The research looked at respondents’ concern over 'fake news' with 85% of those polled in Brazil revealed as most 'worried about what is real and fake on the internet'. This figure was lower in the UK, although still a concern for seven in ten consumers (70%) while in the US it was lower still at 67%. In Germany and the Netherlands concerns were lowest, at 38% and 31% respectively. 

The report revealed that trust levels of 'news' are down to 42% a fall from 44% in 2018. 

Paying for news

When it comes to paying for online news, the report found only a small increase in subscriptions, donations or memberships. It also found that media consumers tend to choose just one online subscription which the report says "suggests 'winner takes it all' dynamics are likely to be important'." The research also suggests that subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify take precedence over news media subscriptions.

When it comes to social media, the study suggests that Facebook usage in many countries is in decline compared to last year, with more users favouring Instagram or WhatsApp, however, the platform is still 'by far the most important social network for news."

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