The Reuters Institute digital survey for 2015

Foreword to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015

This is our fourth annual report that looks to map the changing ecology of news across countries. The report is based on a survey of more than 20,000 people in 12 countries, which makes it the largest ongoing comparative study of news consumption in the world. We have added Australia and Ireland this year to a core set that includes France, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain, Brazil,1 and Japan – along with the UK and US.

This year we find more compelling evidence about the central role being played by smartphones and a sharp increase in the use of social media for finding, sharing, and discussing the news. We see significant growth in the use of online video and new visual formats and track the global rise of Buzzfeed and Huffington Post, companies that have become masters at creating and distributing content in a social and mobile world

Once again we have combined the key data points with a series of essays, which add depth and context to the findings. The BBC’s Director of News James Harding reflects on the pace of change and the implications of growing information inequality. Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Innovation, looks at the implications of the increasing role played by Facebook and Google in the news value chain. Robert Picard picks his way through the changing business models from paid content to native advertising. YouGov’s Director of Media Research Shaun Austin explores consumer attitudes to branded and sponsored content – based on both survey and focus group work specially commissioned for this report. And also in our essays section, Alison Preston explores the generational divide in news consumption, along with the implications for industry and policy-makers.

Our academic partnerships continue to deepen. We are joined this year by the Tow Center at Colombia University, the News and Media Research Centre at Canberra University in Australia, and Dublin City University, Ireland. This active research community also includes our longstanding partners the Hans Bredow Institute in Hamburg, Roskilde University in Denmark, and the School of Communication at the University of Navarra in Spain.

Many of our partners are also organising events or country reports looking in more details at national themes – and adding wider value to this international project.

We continue to make efforts to open up as much of the data as possible. This website contains slidepacks, charts, and raw data tables, along with a licence that encourages reuse, subject to attribution to the Reuters Institute. Also this year, we have extended our interactive feature, which allows anyone to explore and visualise the data by themselves. We’ve made available more data points and created the possibility of examining trends over time.

We hope that all of this will continue to build into an invaluable resource for academics, media owners, journalists, and those developing policy. A description of the methodology is available on this website along with the complete questionnaire.

Making all this possible, we are hugely grateful to our sponsors this year, who include Google, BBC, Ofcom, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BIA), France Télévisions, L’Espresso group in Italy, the Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland, Edelman UK, as well as our academic sponsors and partners at Roskilde University, the Hans Bredow Institute, the University of Navarra, the Tow Center at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and the University of Canberra.

I am also grateful to YouGov, our polling company, who did everything possible to accommodate our complex requirements and helped our research team analyse and contextualise the data.

  1.  The survey only covered urban Brazil. See the following section on methodology.