In this section we explore in more detail interest in different types of news with a particular focus on the UK data. One of the concerns often expressed about on-demand media is that it will over-represent what is popular and immediate at the expense of more serious and explanatory information that can help to underpin a representative democracy.
We start with a high-level view of news interest in the UK and then drill down into some of the detail around political and financial news.
Which news is most important?
In terms of the most important types of news, domestic news comes out on top (74% overall), followed by news about my town or city (50%) and international news (48%), but there are significant differences in terms of gender, especially around specialist news types. Celebrity news, local news, and health and education news are more important to females, whilst men consider business, political, and sporting news more important. The low level of interest in UK political news amongst women is especially striking – and reinforces other studies, which suggest that Westminster politics in particular is not helped by gender inequalities in political representation. 1
Which type of news is most important?
Overall people in the UK are more interested in celebrity news and less interested in domestic politics than those in some other countries surveyed.
Interest in politics vs interest in celebrity: How the UK compares
Celebrity news explored
We have already established that much of the interest in celebrity news in the UK comes from women, but these charts demonstrate the extent to which this is driven by younger women. Almost 50% of 16– 24s women say they are interested in celebrity and entertainment news – that’s twice as many as express interest in news about the economy.
Interest in celebrity news by age and gender
It is also striking that the biggest single driver of celebrity and entertainment news has been online newspaper websites such as the Daily Mail and the Sun. Almost a third (29%) of Mail Online readers say that are interested in celebrity news, compared with 19% of those who read the printed newspaper. The Daily Mail editorial agenda online has been heavily focused on celebrity and these figures show how successful this strategy has been – helping it become the world’s largest online newspaper according to Comscore.2
Celebrity news by by publication (UK average = 21%)
As well as online newspapers, social media and blogs are cited as a key source by almost a third (30%) of the users who say they are interested in celebrity and entertainment news. This is much higher than the average for traditional sources – which lends weight to the argument that digital and social media are encouraging the growth of celebrity news. It should be pointed out, however, that printed magazines also over-index with these groups.
- Hansard society research paper on women’s attitudes to politics: http://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/no-politics-please-were-women/. ↩
- BBC News, How Mail Online Took over the World: http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9708000/9708023.stm. ↩