Foreword to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2019
Journalism exists in the context of its audience, and if journalists (and those who care about journalism) are to understand and navigate the changing environment around news, it is critically important that they have access to relevant, robust, independent evidence and analysis on how people across countries engage with and use news.
That is what we aim to provide in the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, here in its eighth annual iteration. The report provides important new insights into key issues including people’s willingness to pay for news, the move to private messaging applications and groups, and how people see news media around the world performing their role.
The report is based on a survey of more than 75,000 people in 38 markets, along with additional qualitative research, which together make it the most comprehensive ongoing comparative study of news consumption in the world.
Europe remains a key focus, with 24 countries included, but we also cover seven markets in Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia) along with four Latin American countries (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico) as well as the United States and Canada. We are also delighted to include South Africa for the first time this year, following on from our first stand-alone India Digital News Report, published earlier this year, part of our effort to make our research more truly global.
The report has expanded more than sevenfold since its creation, from five countries in 2012 to 38 this year, and as we work to make the report more fully global, we are proud to have been able to add more from the South this year. As we use online polling and need to make meaningful comparisons, we continue to focus on countries with high internet penetration and which are either broadly democratic or generally compare themselves to countries with a democratic tradition. (We have kept India separate from the main Digital News Report for this reason – internet use is not yet widespread enough there to make our online sample directly comparable to the countries covered here.)
This year’s report comes amid a complex set of challenges for the news industry specifically and for our media environment more broadly, including the ongoing disruption of inherited business models for news, constant evolution in how people use digital media (and the ways in which we are constantly reminded of how some of the information they come across is untrustworthy and sometimes spread with malicious intent), and social upheaval associated with the rise of populism and with low trust in many institutions.
As with previous reports we shed light on the questions these developments raise through a combination of survey data, qualitative research, and intelligence from expert contributors across all of our countries. We have also looked in much more detail at the news and media habits of younger people who have grown up with digital media and products and services like Facebook and YouTube and differ in important ways from older generations. We conducted a series of in-depth interviews and tracking studies in the United Kingdom and the United States that we draw on in the relevant sections here and we will publish a full report on the topic later in the year.
A report of this scale and scope is only possible due to collaboration from our partners and sponsors around the world. We are proud to have the opportunity to work with a number of leading academics and top universities in the report, as well as media experts from the news industry itself. Our partners have helped in a variety of different ways, from preparing country profiles to in-depth analysis of the results. Many are also organising events or publishing country reports looking in more detail at specific issues facing their national media – adding wider value to this international project.
Given the richness of the research, this report can only convey a small part of the data collected and work done. More detail is available on our website (www.digitalnewsreport.org), which contains slidepacks, charts, along with a licence that encourages reuse, subject to attribution to the Reuters Institute. Most of the website charts have a feature which allows them to be used by – or be embedded in – any other website or blog. On the website, there is also a full description of our survey methodology, the full questionnaire, and an interactive charting feature, which allows data to be compared across countries, and over time. Raw data tables are also available on request along with documentation for reuse.
Making all this possible, we are hugely grateful to our sponsors: Google, the BBC, Ofcom, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the Dutch Media Authority (CvdM), the Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland, the Fritt Ord Foundation in Norway, the Korea Press Foundation, Edelman UK, as well as our academic sponsors at the Hans Bredow Institute, the University of Navarra, the University of Canberra, the Centre d’études sur les médias, Québec, Canada, and Roskilde University in Denmark. The Open Society Foundations has joined as our newest sponsor, allowing us to expand the report to cover South Africa (and has committed to supporting the inclusion of additional countries in the global south next year).
We are also grateful to YouGov, our polling company, who did everything possible to accommodate our increasingly complex requirements and helped our research team analyse and contextualise the data.