TV remains the most popular platform among British adults for news consumption, but social media is an increasingly important source for news, a new report has revealed.

According to media regulator Ofcom, three-quarters (75%) of UK adults watch TV to keep up with the latest news, although this is down from 79% since last year.

At the same time, use of social media for news coverage has gone up from 44% last year to 49% of all adults, with young people aged 16-24 much more likely to use social media for news than those aged 65+ (76% versus 16%).

The Ofcom report, entitled News Consumption in the UK: 2019 also found that, after TV, the internet is the next most popular platform for news and is accessed by two-thirds (66%) of adults.

Some 43% of UK adults tune in to radio for the news, while 38% continue to rely on traditional print newspapers – although this increases to 49% once newspaper websites and apps are included.

Looking more closely at individual channels and platforms, Ofcom said BBC One remains the most popular news source and is watched by 58% of adults, although this is down from 62% in 2018, followed by ITV (40%) and Facebook (35%).

Usage of Facebook for the news has remained stable since last year, but more people are turning to Twitter (16%, up from 14% in 2018), WhatsApp (14%, up from 10%) and Instagram (13%, up from 9%).

However, while social media platforms are clearly gaining in popularity for news consumption, Ofcom confirmed that they rank low in terms of perceived quality, accuracy, trustworthiness and impartiality.

Just 37% of UK adults regard social media favourably by these measures, compared with 58% for print newspapers, 61% for radio, 62% for TV and 78% for magazines.

But among those who do use social media for the news, Ofcom noted an increase in the number of people who want to engage with the topics under discussion.

“There is evidence that UK adults are consuming news more actively via social media,” the report said. “For example, those who access news shared by news organisations, trending news or news stories from friends and family or other people they follow via Facebook or Twitter are more likely to make comments on the new posts they see compared to the previous year.”

Sourced from Ofcom; additional content by WARC staff