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Six takeaways from the Reuters 2015 Digital News Report

byNatasha Tynes
Jun 19 in Digital journalism

People want free news in the palm of their hand: They don't want to read from their desktops, and don't even bother asking them to look at a homepage.

These were a few of the key findings from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism's 2015 Digital News Report, released this week. The report mirrored trends we've heard throughout the past year, such as an increase in the might and number of digital media companies, and reminded us to pay attention to the direction news consumers are heading. For example, while digital devices reign supreme for accessing news content, smartphones, tablets and desktops were not created equally.

Entering its fourth year of publishing the report, RISJ examined trends in eight countries throughout Europe in addition to the United States, Japan, urban Brazil and Australia. (In its first year, 2012, the institute focused on the news habits of consumers in just five countries.)

IJNet combed through the report to find six takeaways that will prove useful for anyone working in the digital news arena:

Mobile news consumption on the rise

While news consumption from smartphones has jumped significantly over the last 12 months, particularly in the U.K., U.S. and Japan, the report found that “people in most countries say they are likely to access news via a mobile browser” rather than a news application.

"This suggests that news may not always be a primary destination but will often be found through links from social media or email," the report says, noting that news consumers in the U.K. defy the trend: 46 percent prefer apps, putting browser use on mobile in the minority.

The downfall of the homepage

Readers' deference to such links via emails, search engines and social networks has contributed to the downfall of the homepage, which is no longer the gateway to accessing news. But some media watchers, including Wall Street Journal Europe Digital Editor James Crowley, hesitate to call the golden online gateway dead:

Facebook dominates news distribution

Facebook is king when it comes to distributing the news. “Our data show that Facebook is becoming increasingly dominant, with 41 percent (+6) using the network to find, read, watch, share or comment on the news each week – more than twice the usage of its nearest rival,” revealed the report.

The report also pointed out that the pursuit of news via Facebook is secondary as users usually “bump” into the news, unlike other social media platforms like Twitter where it is “an active destination for news by an audience that is deeply interested in latest developments.”

Online video sticks around

Another reason Facebook continues to succeed is its dedication to video. (It now allows autoplay for short clips.) Though video may be considered an oldie on the Internet, it is becoming increasingly popular online, especially in Spain, Denmark, the U.K., Italy and Japan. Twenty-three percent of users across the countries feautured in the report access online video weekly.

Digital news startups garner a global audience 

The consumption of news is borderless as U.S. digital-born brands such as the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed are competing with domestic brands. Huffington Post has a 12 percent stake of U.K. news, and Yahoo has 52 percent of the Japanese market. Vice is also taking a stake in online video content that targets a younger generation.

Notifications becoming key for distribution

​With the release of the Apple Watch, news publishers are paying more attention to notifications, especially as the watch sends select notifications directly to your wrist. “Social media, email and mobile notifications are now becoming key retention and distribution strategies for media companies,” said the report.

Click here to download the whole report and view the video below to hear RISJ Director David Levy and RISJ Research Associate Nic Newman discuss the report at the Global Editors Network summit in Barcelona.

Image CC-licensed on Flickr via Japanexperterna.se