Reuters Institute: UK consumers stumble upon news rather than seeking it out

Reuters Institute: UK consumers stumble upon news rather than seeking it out


In this guest post Karan Chadda explores UK digital news consumption based on a recent report published by the Reuters Institute and finds that consumers no longer seek out news. By Karan Chadda

Each year the University of Oxford's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism publishes its Digital News Report. Covering 12 countries, it is one of the most thorough studies about the way we consume news online.

The 2015 report is useful but the raw data tables even more so. I’ve waded through the UK-specific data and extracted these three findings.

New medium, same oracle

Traditional media (TV, radio and print) retains its hold on our attention with 85% of those surveyed saying they access news through these channels during an average week. Online news consumption is catching up with almost three-quarters (73%) of UK adults accessing news digitally.

We might be embracing digital news, but established news brands are in a strong position.

Four in five (82%) of those accessing online news, access the website or app of a traditional news brand. Of those who access news on their smartphone, half use a single source on their phone.


Online, one brand stands out above all others: the BBC. It is the most widely used news source across all devices, from smartphones (62%) to desktops (66%), and also leads on app usage.

We will not pay

Newspapers, seeing falling print sales, face a tricky conundrum with online audiences. The study reveals 38% of UK adults read a paper and 35% read the website or app of a newspaper.

Digital audiences are gaining parity. The problem is the digital audience will not pay.

Three-quarters (73%) of UK adults say they are very unlikely to pay for online news.


Only 6% say they have paid for news online in the part year and the same percentage say they are likely to in the future. Online news will continue to rely heavily on advertising and other commercial revenue.

Facebook is like the real world

According to Ofcom, almost half (47%) of British adults use social networking sites. However, the Digital News report found that only one in seven (14%) of UK adults share news on a social network during an average week.


Unsurprisingly, Twitter features strongly as a news source. Of those surveyed, almost two-thirds (64%) of those who use it said they “think of it as a useful way of getting news.”



Conversely, nearly two-thirds (62%) of Facebook users agreed with the statement, “I mostly see news when I’m on it for other reasons.”

In this respect, Facebook reflects the real world where a lot of news is shared socially while talking about things in general.

Facebook is also winning. Its scale means that three in 10 (29%) of UK adults find, read, watch, share or discuss news on Facebook. It is the leading social network for news in the UK.


About half the number (14%) of UK adults do the same on Twitter. More digital news is being picked up by incident than by intent.

A presentation with some of this data, and more, from the report can be viewed on slideshare.

About Karan Chadda

Karan-ChaddaKaran Chadda is a marketer with a passion for ideas. He founded Evolving Influence, the marketing consultancy, in 2014 to create brands and content that build stronger businesses. You can find him on Twitter @kchadda.

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