Handheld devices such as mobile phones and tablets are on track to become the dominant platforms for news consumption, and more people are using more than one device, a survey of media consumption habits in nine countries has found.
“News is becoming more mobile, more social, and more real-time,” according to the recently released Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2013: “Tracking the Future of News,” an annual survey which monitors the transition to digital media. “The overwhelming message is that audiences increasingly expect news that they can access anytime, anywhere."
While the survey found the computer remains the primary device for accessing digital news, a third of respondents reported getting news on at least two devices, and 9 percent said they use more than three. Tablet usage doubled in the 10 months since the last survey.
Not surprisingly, the survey found various differences among countries. In Germany and France, for example, there’s much greater attachment to traditional news, like broadcast television and print newspapers. In other countries, including the UK, the US and Japan, more people get their news online, and they have been quicker to adopt the use of new devices.
The survey found that older people remain more tied to print newspapers, while young consumers more often access news through multiple mediums.
In many countries, “search” was found to be the primary way that people access news, over “brand,” which obviously has ramifications on the business of journalism. The survey asked consumers whether the news should have a point of view. The survey found a strong preference for impartial news, led by Japan (81 percent), France (78 percent), Germany (76 percent) and the UK (70 percent). In Brazil, only 28 percent said they preferred news that lacks a point of view.
The survey covers: Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Traditional media still maintains a foothold among news consumers. In the global sample, 50 percent said they had bought a newspaper in the last week. Just 5 percent said they paid for digital news in the same period.
“Audiences may be embracing news on tablets and smartphones but they still want to catch up with broadcast news and they enjoy taking time with the printed page,” the report concludes. “It’s a multi-platform world and becoming more so.”
To read the full report (PDF), click here.
Jessica Weiss is a Buenos Aires-based writer.
Image: Screenshot of Reuters Institute Digital News Report homepage.