News consumption differs according to a variety of factors, ranging from age and ethnicity to political leaning and level of education. Some of these differences are more easily explained than others. It follows, for example, that a person’s political affiliation may influence the kind of content they prefer to read. Interesting though, and less clear-cut, is how a consumer’s geographical location can affect the way they get their news.
Location and news consumption
Looking at social media news engagement, behavior varies across countries. Data from a global study investigating social media news usage worldwide demonstrates this. We can see that Greeks and Bulgarians were the most likely consumers in Europe to head to social networks for news, whereas British, German, and French audiences were the least inclined to do so. Social media news consumption was highest in Nigeria, and Nigerians cited news as one of the main reasons for using social networks. Usage will continue to grow in line with internet access, and, like in other markets, will increase as younger consumers begin to engage with news.
Willingness to pay for news is also different around the world. In Norway, the country with the highest share of people paying for online news, the percentage who do so amounts to under 50 percent, although in the UK and Japan the figure was around four times lower. Indeed, under 10 percent of UK adults paid for any kind of online news content in the last year as of 2023, showing little change since 2013 despite small yearly fluctuations. In Japan, despite a survey revealing that around two thirds of respondents consider newspapers to be trustworthy, this does not increase the likelihood to pay for content either in print form or online. Only a fraction of Japanese news consumers pay to access a newspaper’s website, perhaps suggesting that whilst trust in the format exists, trust in and the willingness to invest in specific brands remains shaky.
The impact of false information
Mis- and disinformation in news is a global problem, and audiences around the world are susceptible to encountering it. Coming across poorly researched, deliberately misleading, and biased information is one of the many factors which negatively impact trust. A survey investigating trust in the media showed that less than 50 percent of consumers in half the countries in the study felt the media could be trusted, with Japanese and South Korean respondents particularly skeptical. Moreover, almost 30 percent of news consumers worldwide actively avoid news because of untrustworthy or biased content.
Reading a news story that was completely fake ranks among the leading concerns when interacting with online news worldwide. However, without active intervention from news organizations and governments to control and prevent suspicious content, little will change. Although containing and preventing false news entirely is not possible, it is key that social networks implement measures to ensure their platforms are a safe place, quality journalism is allowed to flourish, and political bias is kept to a minimum.
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