Digital News Report 2022: Challenges for publishers and solutions | What’s New in Publishing

More and more publishers recognize that subscription alone will not be enough; developing multiple sources of income will ensure resilience

Every year for the past decade, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism has published its “must-have” analysis of the digital news space. The Digital News Report 2022 (DNR) brings together key insights from a survey of more than 93,000 online news consumers in 46 countries. Key themes in the 164-page report include growing news avoidance, as well as declining levels of trust in the media.

Take away food

  • The headline from this year’s DNR is that 38% of people worldwide often or sometimes avoid the news. News avoidance rates vary by country, but the US and UK have some of the highest rates; 42% of people now avoid the news in the US and 46% in the UK. The UK news avoidance rate has doubled in five years.
  • As news avoidance increases, trust in the news has fallen in nearly half of the countries surveyed, reversing the improvements achieved during the coronavirus pandemic. On average, just over 40% of respondents said they trust information most of the time. The US is at the bottom of the survey, where trust in the news fell 3% to 26%.
  • This lack of trust carries over to data collection. With first-party data becoming increasingly important, most consumers are still hesitant to register their email address with news sites. Only about a third said they trust news websites to use their personal data responsibly. The figure is significantly lower in the United States, at just 18%.

Solutions for publishers

Reviewing the report, journalism professor Damian Radcliffe identified four areas publishers should pay attention to and made recommendations to help counter their impact.

Avoidance – A growing number of people deliberately avoid content considered difficult and depressing. To keep audiences from disconnecting, publishers should offer a mix of content, which Katie Vanneck Smith of slow news publisher Tortoise called “Spinach and Cheesecake” on the Media Voices podcast. Describing the current news cycle, she said:

There was a lot of spinach. And we all need a little cheesecake.

Reduction of subscriptions – About half of paid subscriptions in the United States go to three publishers: The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Globally, less than 20% of digital news consumers pay to subscribe and the cost of living crisis is likely to put pressure on this figure

The advice from Radcliffe and the report’s lead author, Nic Newman, is to “double down on income diversification.” newman said:

More and more publishers are recognizing that subscription alone will not be enough. Developing multiple revenue streams will provide resilience and help publishers weather the coming storm.

Reluctance to register – Publishers know they need first-party data; it does not mean that they have an effective strategy. Less than 30% of users have currently signed up for a news site, suggesting that most lack a clear value proposition that will encourage people to give up their data.

The suggested solution is for publishers to use contests, events, and exclusive content to encourage signups. Publishers must also persuade consumers that they will handle personal data responsibly.

Audience age gap – Gen Z is a demographic with its own media habits and the DNR 2022 identifies a growing gap between the media behaviors and preferences of many younger audiences compared to older demographics. They also have a weaker connection to media brands and are more concerned with who is telling the story and what others think about it.

To reach younger audiences, publishers need to focus on topics that interest them and develop content tailored to specific platforms. The Digital News Report 2022 said publishers shouldn’t expect young people to end up going back to what’s always been done.

This article originally appeared in Spiny Trends and is republished with permission. Spiny Trends provides the industry news updates and analysis you need to stay in the know if you run a media and publishing business. Subscribe to a weekly email digest here.