This is our seventh annual report that explores the changing environment around news across countries. The report is based on a survey of more than 74,000 people in 37 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, where we cover 25 countries including Bulgaria for the first time this year, but we also cover six markets in Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore) along with four Latin American countries (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico) and the United States and Canada from North America.
The report has expanded more than sevenfold since its creation, from five countries in 2012 to 37 in 2018, but it is not yet fully global. Our use of online polling and the need to make meaningful comparisons have meant we have focused on countries with high internet penetration and which are either broadly democratic or generally compare themselves to countries with a democratic tradition.
This year’s report comes amid continuing concern about so-called ‘fake news’ and about the role of tech companies (platforms) in facilitating the spread of misinformation. Investigations have been launched in many countries, whether about misinformation, use of customer data to target political advertising, or the impact of the tech companies on the news industry. Against that background we’ve tried to understand more about audience concerns about different kinds of information online, to provide evidence about the state of the industry across our 37 countries as well as insights into the relationship between news publishers and their users.
As with previous reports we’ve done this by triangulating survey data, focus groups and intelligence from expert contributors across all of our countries. We have also introduced some new approaches, through looking at trust at the brand level and the use of focus groups. As politicians and industry grapple for solutions on how to balance freedom of expression and regulation in a digital age we also bring further evidence about how audiences view these issues. We have explored news literacy for the first time, developing a model that allows us to understand more about how this influences trust and the ability to spot misinformation.
This year we’ve looked in much more detail at the changing shape of social media and the increasing importance of messaging apps for news. We conducted a series of focus groups in four countries (United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Brazil) where we talked to users of Facebook and WhatsApp about how they used these networks for news. This has brought out a rich set of insights about why people are often reluctant to share and post openly about contentious subjects and are increasingly choosing safer, more private spaces.
In terms of partnerships we continue to deepen our relationships across the world with a multiplicity of distinguished academic institutions. These have helped in a variety of different ways, from preparing country profiles to in-depth analysis of the results. Many of our partners are also organising events or country reports looking in more detail at national themes — adding wider value to this international project.
Inevitably this printed report can only convey a small part of the data that we’ve captured. More detail is available on this website (www.digitalnewsreport.org), which contains slidepacks, charts, along with a licence that encourages reuse, subject to attribution to the Reuters Institute. All 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, you can also find 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, Université Laval, Canada, and Roskilde University in Denmark.
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.