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Trust in Traditional Media Declines as Social Media Apps Emerge as News Platforms

Wesam Abo Marq Wesam Abo Marq
24th June 2023
Trust in Traditional Media Declines as Social Media Apps Emerge as News Platforms
Audiences show more interest in celebrities and social media influencers (Getty)

According to a recent study conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, TikTok has become the fastest-expanding social platform among young adults when it comes to news consumption. 

The research revealed that 20% of individuals aged 18 to 24 utilized the Chinese-owned TikTok for staying informed, representing a notable increase of five percentage points compared to the previous year.

Declining Trust in Traditional Media: Study Reveals

A recent report reveals a decline in the number of people who access news through websites or apps since 2018, with younger generations favoring social media, search engines, and mobile aggregators for news consumption.

According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism's Digital News Report, audiences now show greater interest in celebrities, influencers, and social media personalities compared to journalists, particularly on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The report highlights TikTok as the fastest-growing social network for news among 18- to 24-year-olds, with a 5% increase in usage compared to the previous year.

A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: A screenshot of the report.

The report is based on an online survey conducted in 46 markets, including the United States, with approximately 94,000 adult participants.

The survey findings indicate a significant drop in overall interest in news, with less than half of respondents expressing substantial interest, down from six out of ten in 2017. 

Reuters Institute Director Rasmus Nielsen emphasizes that younger individuals born in the 2000s are unlikely to develop a preference for traditional websites, broadcast, or print media as they age. 

“There are no reasonable grounds for expecting that those born in the 2000s will suddenly come to prefer old-fashioned websites, let alone broadcast and print, simply because they grow older,” Reuters Institute Director Rasmus Nielsen said.

The survey revealed that less than one-third of the respondents considered having news stories selected based on their previous consumption as a favorable method, showing a decline of 6 points since the question was last asked in 2016. However, the study found that people still slightly favored news selected by algorithms over choices made by editors or journalists.

Furthermore, the study found that 56% of individuals across various markets expressed concerns about distinguishing between real and fake news on the internet, indicating a 2-percentage point increase from the previous year.

TikTok's Growing Role as a News Platform Compared to Facebook

The report emphasizes the growing dominance of TikTok influencers and celebrities as news providers for younger generations, while also shedding light on the difficulties faced by journalists and social media platforms in adapting to the changing needs of their audiences.

Furthermore, the report underscores TikTok's ongoing evolution as a comprehensive mega app, incorporating diverse features such as social media, video sharing, shopping, and music exploration.

The report proved Facebook's continued prominence as the leading social platform for news consumption, even amidst the rise of TikTok. However, the report also emphasizes Facebook's efforts to distance itself from news content by reducing the visibility of news stories in users' feeds.

This development comes as Facebook strives to combat sensationalism and misinformation on its platform, following concerns about the quality of news content during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

Neglecting Emotional and Distressing News

The report also found that audiences selectively avoid stories such as the Russian War on Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, as people minimize exposure to distressing news and seek to protect their mental well-being.

The data revealed a decline in overall interest in news across many countries, with high levels of selective news avoidance. About 36% of survey participants actively or frequently avoid the news.

Among news neglectors, 53% mentioned altering channels when negative news comes on, while 32% actively avoided topics that "dampen the mood or increase anxiety." Many individuals also expressed that news stories are "emotionally distressing."

Misbar’s Sources: 


Reuters Institute


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