Survey Methodology for the 2019 Digital News Report

This study has been commissioned by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism to understand how news is being consumed in a range of countries. Research was conducted by YouGov using an online questionnaire at the end of January/beginning of February 2019.

  • Samples in each country were assembled using nationally representative quotas for age, gender, region, and education.1 The data were also weighted to targets based on census/industry accepted data.
  • As this survey deals with news consumption, we filtered out anyone who said that they had not consumed any news in the past month, in order to ensure that irrelevant responses didn’t adversely affect data quality. This category averaged around 3%.
  • We should note that online samples will tend to under-represent the consumption habits of people who are not online (typically older, less affluent, and with limited formal education). In this sense it is better to think of results as representative of online populations who use news at least once a month. In a country like Norway this is almost everyone (99%) but in South Africa this is just over 50%.
  • These differences mean we need to be cautious when comparing results between countries. We have marked countries with lower internet penetration or less representative online samples with an asterisk (*) in the table at the end of this section and have been careful in the report not to directly compare these countries on issues where we know that the sample difference would make results invalid (e.g. paying for news).
  • It is also important to note that online surveys rely on recall, which is often imperfect or subject to biases. We have tried to mitigate these risks through careful questionnaire design and testing. On the other hand, surveys can be a good way of capturing fragmented media consumption across platforms (e.g. social media, messaging, apps, and websites), and tracking activities and changes over time.
  • It is important to note that some of our survey-based results will not match industry data, which are often based on very different methodologies, such as web-tracking. The accuracy of these approaches can be very high, but they are also subject to different limitations, meaning that data can also be partial or incomplete. We will often look at this data to sense check our results or help identify potential problems with our survey data before publication. On occasions we will include industry data as supporting evidence with appropriate attribution.
  • Each year we also commission some qualitative research to support and complement the survey. This year, we worked with Flamingo, an international market research company, to look in detail at the habits and behaviours of younger groups in the United States and United Kingdom. The methodology included tracking actual online behaviour of 20 participants for several weeks, depth interviews, and small group discussions with their friends. Insights and quotes from this research are used to support this year’s Digital News Report but will also form a separate report to be published in September.
  • Along with country-based figures, throughout the report, we also use aggregate figures based on responses from all respondents across all the countries covered. These figures are meant only to indicate overall tendencies and should be treated with caution.
  • Due to a scripting error we needed to repoll respondents for one question in Norway about the use of social networks for news. 1,387 of the original 2,000 sample responded to the recontact request and the results are included on the Norway country page.

  1. Education quotas were not applied (or not fully applied) in Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Malaysia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, and Turkey so these samples will have a higher proportion of highly educated people than the general population.