5 Takeaways From the Reuters Institute Digital News Report

Voice assistants and podcasts are on the rise

Digital assistants and fake news are two key trends in the report. Getty Images
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Podcasts, fake news and digital assistants are all key growing trends highlighted in the seventh annual Reuters Institute Digital News Report.

The report surveyed more than 74,000 people in 37 markets like Europe, the U.S., Asia and Latin America. In it, growing trends in news and media are analyzed and this year’s findings intersect strongly with social media platforms—perhaps more blatantly than ever before.

Here are five key trends from the report:

1. More people are sharing news on messaging apps than on Facebook

Despite Facebook wishing to amp up sharing on its platform, people are moving towards messaging platforms to share news. Fifty-four percent of people who responded in Malaysia prefer WhatsApp to spread news, nine percent in Norway do it on Snapchat and 16 percent like Instagram. While these are international markets, 17 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds in the U.S. are exposed to Snapchat Discover, which is a key area where people can find news on the app.

The reasoning behind this is “people’s Facebook networks have got so big over time that they no longer feel comfortable sharing content openly,” the report states. However, Facebook’s use isn’t diminished; instead, people are still finding news on Facebook but sharing it on apps like WhatsApp in a less public manner.

2. More than half of those surveyed are worried about fake news on the internet

Of those surveyed, 54 percent agreed that they’re “concerned” about fake and real news. The percentage grows higher in countries that have faced issues in their elections and the proliferation of fake news, with 85 percent concerned in Brazil, 69 percent in Spain and 64 percent in the U.S.

However, that’s not to say people can identify fake news. Only 26 percent could point to concrete examples and instead lumped clickbait or “poor journalism” into the category. Other examples of the relationship between the two include 59 percent being “concerned” about facts being pushed a certain way, with only 39 percent responding that they’ve actually seen it.

3. People want publishers and social media platforms to do more about fake news

Though many social media platforms don’t think they’re a media company or are particularly indebted to curb how news is shared on their platforms, 71 percent of those surveyed do think these companies can do something about it. Seventy-five percent do think the burden is also on media companies and journalists to fix journalism.

Surprisingly, only 41 percent of those surveyed in the U.S. believe the government should act on curbing fake news compared to the 72 percent in Spain or 61 percent in the U.K. and France.

4. Other news formats are growing in adoption

Fifty-three precent of those surveyed would still rather get their news through search and social media, but that doesn’t mean news apps, newsletters and mobile notifications aren’t on the rise. One issue that’s impeding more adoption of mobile notifications is getting too many, with 21 percent surveyed sharing this sentiment. Sixty-five percent however felt they received the right amount. If users could control how many notifications they get, 18 percent said that would make them use or install these alerts.

5. Audio and digital assistants are becoming news disseminators

The podcast craze isn’t just for true crime and mystery thrillers. Thirty-four percent listen to a news podcast on a monthly basis, with 58 percent listening to one in South Korea and 33 percent in the U.S. Most notably, 48 percent in the two age demographics of 18-24 and 25-34 listen to podcasts.

With digital assistants, like the Amazon Echo or Naver in South Korea, more people across the world are buying and using these devices. (Nine percent use them in the U.S. and seven percent in the U.K.) Though 77 percent surveyed said they use it to listen to music, 43 percent use it to listen to the news in some format.

@itstheannmarie annmarie.alcantara@adweek.com Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.