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Global Shifts in Online News Consumption

Context:

The 2023 Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute reveals notable changes in global online news consumption. The Reuters Institute focuses on studying journalism’s future through research, debate, and engagement on a global scale.

Relevance:

GS III: Role of Media & Social Networking Sites in Internal Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Changing News Consumption Patterns in India
  2. Challenges Faced by India Due to Changes in News Consumption Patterns
  3. Way Forward for Addressing News Consumption Challenges in India

Changing News Consumption Patterns in India:

  • Shift Away from Traditional Websites: Indians increasingly rely on search engines and mobile news aggregators (43%) for online news, moving away from traditional news websites.
  • Preference for Social Media: Only 12% prefer direct sources like newspapers, while 28% opt for social media as their primary news source.
  • Preference for Visual Content: A preference for watching or listening to news content over reading it is observed.
Global Contrasts in News Consumption:
  • Scandinavia’s News Engagement: Scandinavian countries maintain direct engagement with established news brands.
  • Social Media Dependence: In Asia, Latin America, and Africa, there is heavy reliance on social media for news.
  • Diverse News Consumption Preferences Across Countries:
  • Reading Dominance: Finland and the UK show a preference for reading news online (80%).
  • Video News Preference: India and Thailand prefer watching news online (40%), while the Philippines leads with 52% favoring video news.
Declines in News Engagement in India:
  • Falling Access to Online News: Alarming declines are seen in both reading and sharing news in India, with online news access dropping by 12% between 2022 and 2023.
  • Television Viewership Decrease: Television viewership, especially among younger and urban individuals, has decreased by 10%.
  • Impact of Post-Covid Period: The decline in news engagement can be attributed, in part, to the diminishing influence of the Covid-19 pandemic since the relaxation of lockdown measures in April 2022.
Trust in News in India and Globally:
  • Stagnant Trust Levels in India: Trust in news in India remains stagnant at 38% between 2021 and 2023, ranking among the lowest in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Varying Trust Levels Globally: Countries like Finland (69%) and Portugal (58%) exhibit higher trust levels.
  • Political Polarization and Trust: Countries with higher levels of political polarization, such as the United States (32%), Argentina (30%), Hungary (25%), and Greece (19%), tend to have lower trust levels in news.

Challenges Faced by India Due to Changes in News Consumption Patterns:

Misinformation and Fake News Spread:

  • Shift away from traditional sources to search engines and social media may facilitate the dissemination of misinformation and fake news, leading to public confusion, false beliefs, and potential social unrest.

Impact on Journalism Quality:

  • Reduced preference for traditional news outlets can affect the quality of journalism.
  • Independent and credible journalism may face financial challenges, potentially resulting in a decline in investigative reporting and in-depth analysis.

Political Polarization:

  • The prominence of social media as a news source can contribute to political polarization.
  • Exposure to biased information may impact the democratic process by reinforcing echo chambers and ideological divisions.

Low Trust in News:

  • India’s persistently low trust in news raises concerns for a healthy democracy.
  • Rebuilding trust in the media is crucial for informed citizenship and a functioning democracy.

Generation Gap in News Consumption:

  • Decreasing television viewership among younger individuals highlights a disconnect with traditional news mediums.
  • Engaging and informing the younger generation through reliable news sources is essential for their civic education.

Algorithmic Determination of Content:

  • Relying on search engines and social media for news exposes individuals to content determined by algorithms.
  • This may limit exposure to diverse perspectives and important news stories, potentially affecting their understanding of complex issues.

Way Forward for Addressing News Consumption Challenges in India:

Media Literacy Programs:

  • Promote media literacy programs in schools and communities to empower individuals with the skills to critically evaluate news sources and discern misinformation from credible information.

Collaborative Fact-Checking:

  • Encourage partnerships between fact-checking organizations, government agencies, and social media platforms to collectively identify and correct false information disseminated online.

Legislation for Fair Compensation:

  • Explore the possibility of enacting legislation similar to Australia’s model, which mandates digital platforms to pay local media outlets for using their content.
  • This can support the struggling news industry, ensure fair compensation for content creators, and incentivize the production of authentic and original news content.

-Source: The Hindu


June 2024
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