LONDON: UK consumers retain a strong affection for traditional newsbrands rooted in paper and ink and are much less likely to turn to digital newcomers when consuming news content, a new study has said.
The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2014 was derived from a survey of the news consumption of over 18,000 people in 10 countries. It found that digital readership habits in the UK had more in common with Denmark, Finland and Germany than with the US.
"We tend to forget that the UK doesn't always follow the US when it comes to media trends," Judy Harman, planning director at Newsworks, the UK's marketing body for national newspapers, told MediaTel.
"While patterns of device ownership are similar, consumption patterns are not the same," she added. "In the UK newspaper brands have been at the forefront of the digital revolution and remain strong destination brands across all platforms."
Traditional newsbrands were accessed digitally by more than half of the online sample in the UK. Just 9% went to digital pure-player The Huffington Post, compared to 17% in the US.
The report noted, however that The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed were attracting significant audiences in a number of European markets as well as the US and Brazil. Google News was a leading player in Italy, France and Germany while Yahoo! was the top news site in Japan.
While a news title was important in creating trust for almost two thirds (63%) of UK readers, respondents said that the writers of the news also played a significant role – 44% indicated they were more likely to trust a source of news because of a journalist.
This development was in part being driven by social media as people found it easier to identify directly with their preferred journalists. But Dr David Levy, Director of the Reuters Institute, was concerned at how social media could affect news consumption, as "reliance on recommendations from like-minded friends could mean people are less exposed to a broad news agenda" with subsequent implications for society as a whole.
And that same trend meant that "consumers may be more conscious of speed and the source of the recommendation than the reliability and trustworthiness of the original news source".
Data sourced from Reuters Institute, MediaTel; additional content by Warc staff