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Where we get our news in 2024: Social media has become the new global newsstand

Survey reveals leading sources of news in UK and US.

By Dominic Ponsford

News consumers across the world are increasingly far more likely to access news via social media than they are by directly accessing publisher websites and apps.

The 2024 Reuters Digital News Report surveyed news consumers in 47 leading markets around the world with over 2,000 respondents in each territory (big exclusions included China and Russia).

Across all leading global media markets, social media is the main gateway to news for 29% of people (up from 23% six years ago, but slightly down compared with last year).

Search (dominated by Google) remains important, with 25% citing this as their main access point to news, compared to 24% in 2018.

There has been a sharp decline in the proportion saying that direct access to publisher websites and apps is their main access point for news, down from 32% six years ago to 22% in the latest survey.

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Looking at UK sources of news, social media is now cited by 37% of respondents as the main way they came across news in the last week versus 14% for print. TV has declined from 79% to 50% over the last decade.

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UK Reuters survey respondents were asked how they came across news over the previous week

In the UK there has been a sharp fall in the number of 18 to 24 year-olds accessing news websites or apps directly, from 53% to 25% over the last decade.

The fall amongst 25 to 34 year-olds has been less sharp, down from 53% to 34%. For those aged 35 and above, publisher websites and apps have remained important, with 51% saying they used them over the last week, a figure which has remained level.

Looking at 11 leading media economies, the survey asked which social media networks people have used to access news over the last week.

Facebook remains the most popular source of news, but it has declined from 36% in 2014 citing it to 26% in the latest survey.

Youtube has grown from 16% to 22%, Whatsapp is up from 7% to 16% and Instagram is up from 2% to 15%. Twitter/X is steady on around 11% and Tiktok has grown sharply after emerging four years ago to be used by 8% for accessing news.

Looking at particular newsbrands and sources of news, the survey underlines the dominance of the BBC over the UK media scene. The BBC is also the only UK brand cited by a significant number of US survey respondents as a source they access on at least a weekly basis.

Looking at TV/radio/print, the BBC is twice as popular (48%) as second-placed ITV News. Looking at online it is nearly three times as likely to be cited (44%) as the second-placed Guardian website.

Sources of news: Headline UK findings for newsbrands based on survey of just over 2000 adults in Jan/Feb 2024

In the US, opinionated right of centre brand Fox News is the most likely to be cited as a weekly source for both online and looking at just TV/radio/print. Overall, US newsbrands are far more evenly split in terms of popularity.

Sources of news: Headline USA findings for newsbrands based on survey of just over 2000 adults in Jan/Feb 2024

The report found that in the UK mainstream news brands are most likely to be cited as a source of news by social media users, versus alternative news outlets and influencers.

Online native brand Politics Joe made the top five most-referenced outlets in the UK survey behind legacy brands BBC News, Sky News, The Guardian and ITV News.

When survey respondents to ask individual news accounts they pay attention to for news on social media, partisan and outspoken voices dominated and in both the UK and US all the named social media accounts cited by survey respondents were men.

See more on this phenomenon of “news influencers” from Digital News Report author Nic Newman here.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
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  • Other C-Suite
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  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
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  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
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