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According to the University of Canberra’s Digital News Report (DNR) of the News and Media Research Center (N & MRC), Australians have known more and more confidence in news over the past 12 months, but the majority don’t know that the news industry is having financial problems.

Trust grows

The research team surveyed more than 2,000 adult Australian news consumers and found that news confidence fell to 43% (five points higher than last year), but well below the Covid-19 “confidence jump” of 53% earlier in the year lies pandemic.

“The improvement in confidence likely reflects the public’s greater reliance on news during a crisis and the active dissemination of official health warnings by news outlets during the pandemic,” the report’s lead author Professor said Sora Park.

“However, the confidence summit associated with news coverage of Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic has not carried over to news in general.”

The report notes that high news consumption in the early days of the pandemic (70%) also fell to 51%, four percentage points less than before Covid. With this decline in heavy consumption comes a decline in interest.

Consumers don’t understand the financial pressures news brands face

The report also finds that 66% of Australians don’t know that the news industry is financially worse off than it was 10 years ago.

Report co-author, associate professor Caroline Fischer said this is important because People who understand the difficulties facing the news industry are more likely to pay for news.

“Despite the importance of credible news and information during the COVID-19 pandemic and the early surge in consumption, the percentage of Australians paying for news has not increased,” said Dr. Fisher.

Only 13% of Australians pay for online news, which is below the global average of 17%, and the vast majority of those who don’t pay right now (83%) say they are unlikely to pay for news in the future.

Women and Gen-Z poorly represented

The data shows that more than half of Australians believe that the news media adequately and fairly represent their views and their communities. However, the most dissatisfied are young women. A quarter of Gen Z women (26%) think they are underrepresented in the news, compared to 11% of Gen Z men.

Women, younger generations, regional Australians, and those with low incomes and education are less likely to see themselves or their views as adequately or adequately reflected in the news.

Other important results of the Digital News Report are:

• The high level of interest in news has decreased from 64% in 2016 to 52% in 2021.
• Print consumption has halved since 2016. Most Australians (80%) say they have not read a newspaper or magazine in the past week.
• 54% of Gen Z say social media is their primary source of news, up from 47% in 2019, and tripling among those over 75 since 2019. Overall, 23% of Australians use social media primarily for news.
• 44% oppose government sponsoring commercial news organizations that are in financial difficulty.
• Facebook for news (33%) has gradually declined since 2016 (45%).
• Australians prefer impartial news. 73% agree that news should have a range of views, 57% agree that news should always be neutral, while 28% think that there are some topics that make no sense to be neutral.
• More than half of Australians say the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on their personal circumstances (57%), which is much lower than the global average (74%) and the lowest among all 46 countries surveyed.

The full DNR report can be found here.

The DNR: Australia 2021 provides an in-depth analysis of the state of news consumption in Australia every year. It is part of a global research project involving 46 countries coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. YouGov conducted the survey in late January / early February 2021.

See also:
Research: ABC and newspapers most trustworthy, social media less

Australians trust the government in front of the media for coronavirus news


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