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August 13, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 9:30am

Ofcom survey: News consumption via social media and Google is down

By Charlotte Tobitt

The number of people in the UK getting news from social media and Google search has declined in the past year, although Google News use is up according to Ofcom.

Some 45% of adults say they consume news via social media, according to Ofcom’s annual news consumption survey, compared to 49% last year.

A greater proportion of these people claim to get news through Facebook (76% up from 73%), Twitter (37% up from 32%) and Instagram (31% up from 28%) than last year – but Ofcom found that users of all three platforms are less engaged with the news, with smaller proportions clicking on or sharing articles or videos.

Some 30% of those who use social media to get news use Whatsapp, 17% use Snapchat and 10% use Linkedin. Those who use Snapchat for news appear to be the most likely to click on news article or videos about trending news.

Scroll down for the top 20 most-used news sources + biggest websites/apps for news

Social media continued to be rated lower than any of the other main news sources on trust, with just 35% of those who regularly use it for news saying it is trustworthy (down from 38% last year). Facebook was seen as the least trustworthy (32%) and Twitter the most (39%).

Social media’s scores for helping people understand what is going on in the world, accuracy and quality also dropped and continue to be much lower than other news sources.

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Google search engine use for news appears to have dropped, with just 39% of 1,757 survey respondents saying they did so compared to 51% in 2019.

On the other hand, Google News has risen from 13% to 17% in the past year.

TV news

TV remains by far the most popular source for news, used by 75% of people. It is followed by the internet on 65% and radio on 42%.

The amount of people using any BBC TV channel for news has dropped from 87% in 2018 to 83%, with Sky News (33%) overtaking the BBC News Channel (28%).

BBC One was still the most likely to be someone’s single most important source of news, although this has dropped from 27% to 23% since 2018.

Three-quarters of regular ITV viewers rated it highest for regional TV news, followed by 72% for the BBC which is currently planning to make cuts to its local offerings.

Newspapers

Ofcom analysis of ABC figures shows total national newspaper circulation has declined from nearly 22m in 2010 to 9.3m in 2019.

A third (35%) of adults claim to consume news through print newspapers. The number using daily freesheets has gone up from 23% last year to 27%, but only 3% read free weekly local newspapers.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit its business model hard and led to plans to cut almost half the newsroom, the Evening Standard was seeing growth in its scores for accuracy (74%), high quality (71%), and being important to readers (61%).

Just over one in 20 adults (6%) said they consume news via podcasts.

Ofcom’s survey was carried out in November to December and February to March with a total of 2,066 face-to-face and 2,510 online interviews.

Top 20 news sources (by % of survey respondents who said they use it for news – Ofcom):

Rank News source 2020 2019 2018
1 BBC One 56 58 62
2 ITV/UTV/STV 41 40 41
3 Facebook 34 35 33
4 Sky News channel 25 23 24
5 BBC website/app 23 25 23
6 BBC News channel 21 23 26
7 Channel 4 18 17 18
8 Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday 17 18 18
9 Twitter 17 16 14
10 Google search 15 19 17
11 Instagram 14 13 9
12 Whatsapp 13 14 10
13 BBC Radio 2 12 12 12
14 BBC Two 11 11 14
15 Metro 11 9 10
16 Sun/Sun on Sunday 10 11 11
17 Guardian/Observer 10 11 11
18 BBC Radio 1 9 9 9
19 Local newspapers 9 10 11
20 BBC Radio 4 9 9 10

Top 18 website/apps used for news (by % of 1,757 respondents who use)

Rank Website/app 2020 2019 2018
1 BBC 60 65 63
2 Google search 39 51 46
3 Sky News 20 20 17
4 Guardian/Observer 18 18 17
5 Daily Mail 18 17 17
6 Google News 17 13 11
7 Youtube 15 15 13
8 Local newspaper 10 10 11
9 Huffpost 10 11 12
10 ITV/ITN 10 8 10
11 Buzzfeed 10 9 8
12 MSN News 8 10 11
13 Telegraph 8 8 9
14 Ladbible 8 6 5
15 Yahoo News 7 7 11
16 The Independent 7 8 8
17 The Sun 6 7 6
18 Metro 6 5 5

Picture: Lisa Fotios/ Pexels

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