New research, published today (23rd June 2015), shows significant changes in the way in which Irish people access news. It has found that smartphones are the defining device when it comes to accessing digital news in Ireland. 52% use these devices weekly to access news content.
This is one of a number of new insights emerging in the Reuters Digital News Report 2015 (Ireland) commissioned by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (“BAI”). This Irish report is based on data generated for the Reuters Institute Digital News Report published on 16th June 2015. The BAI facilitated the inclusion of Ireland in this international research project as part of its work on media plurality in Ireland. To maximise the use of the data, the BAI partnered with the Institute of Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) at DCU to produce a more detailed Irish specific report.
Among the key findings of the analysis undertaken by DCU’s FuJo were:
- News consumption is high in Ireland across all demographics, with 86% of people accessing some news every day. Digital migration is significant with 41% of respondents stating that online is their main source of news. However, at 58% traditional news sources remain important but within these TV (37%) is the dominant player. (Radio 14% and Print 7%).
- TV is the most highly valued news source in Ireland because it commands the most trust and because of its accuracy and reliability.
- Fewer than half of those surveyed (46%) trust the news in general. But 57% said they trust their chosen sources of news. Traditional news is perceived to be more accurate, reliable and trusted than online news in general. TV news is seen to be more accurate than either print or online news. The reasons for the low levels of trust are not clear in the absence of more in-depth qualitative analysis.
- At 7%, Ireland has one of the lowest rates of paying for news of the countries surveyed. Only a fifth of these are subscribers. One-off payment accounts for the rest, indicating this revenue stream is not yet a reliable one for digital publishers. This trend will be tracked over the next three years to follow the impact of some traditional media brands moving behind paywalls, e.g. irishtimes.ie.
- Across the domestic market, RTÉ dominates with 58% watching TV news and 33% listening to RTÉ radio news weekly. RTÉ News online is the most accessed digital news brand at 31%. INM print publications capture 33% of Irish news consumers weekly while its online offering is the second most popular at 28%. TV3 news has a 32% weekly reach for its broadcast service and 5% for its online offering. The Irish Times has a 25% share for its publications and 23% online. International players like Sky News (38%) and BBC News (33%) are also significant sources for Irish audiences.
- Social media is not as highly trusted as other news sources in Ireland. Just seven per cent consider it a trusted source, compared to 36% for TV and 11% for print news.
- In terms of gateways to news, the research shows that the starting point of a news journey was less likely to be a brand homepage, and increasingly likely to be via a search engine, a social network, email, or the lockscreen of a smartphone. In Ireland, 44% of those surveyed went directly to a news brand, while 46% went to a search engine at a start point, with 36% accessing news content via social media.
The results of the research will be discussed this afternoon (23rd June 2015) as part of an event in the Helix, Dublin City University (DCU), entitled ‘FuJo – Shaping Journalism’s Future’, organised by FuJo in partnership with the BAI. Speakers at the event include Dr. David Levy, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; Dr. Jane Suiter, Director FuJo; Kevin O’Sullivan, Editor, The Irish Times; Marie McGonagle, a leading media law academic, NUI Galway; Mark Little, CEO and Founder, Storyful; Malachy Browne, Reported.ly; Alison Gow, Editor, Trinity Mirror; and Professor Mark Keane, UCD/ Insight. The event will be moderated by John Mulholland, Editor, The Observer. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Alex White, TD will also speak about the Guidelines on Media Mergers published earlier this month.
Commenting on the findings of the research the BAI Chief Executive, Michael O’Keeffe said: “The universal provision of well-resourced news and current affairs and a culture of mature conversation, open debate and healthy dissent are essential elements of a democratic society. The increased availability and accessibility of news content are clear benefits of the digital age but these developments do not, of themselves, ensure plurality. Citizens need to be aware of, and be empowered to access, a diverse range of quality and culturally relevant content. Comparative and specific research is an essential building block in the process to deliver on this requirement.”
“In this context, the BAI is pleased to co-sponsor the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015 and to partner with the Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) in DCU to produce an Irish specific report that will track emerging trends and highlight areas for debate,” Mr. O’Keeffe said.
Dr. Jane Suiter, Director of the Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) said: “Our analysis of the Reuters data finds that Irish news consumption patterns are broadly similar to the rest of the world, and there is clear evidence about the role of social media in finding, sharing and discussing the news and about the growing role of smartphones in the news. But there are also patterns which are peculiar to the Irish or at least more pronounced here, for example, a reluctance to pay for news, and a propensity to consume international news from global providers. However, because this survey was conducted online it must be acknowledged that the results will under-represent the consumption habits of those who are not online. We wish to stress the importance of considering this in interpreting the data and analysis.
“Because this is Ireland’s first year participating, changes over time are not yet the focus, rather we seek to describe the current conditions of news consumption in Ireland. This will provide a benchmark from which changes can be tracked over future years. This report both puts the Irish data in international context and delves deeper into specific issues.
“We hope this will build into an invaluable resource for academics, media owners, journalists, and those developing policy,” Dr. Suiter said.
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2015 marks the fourth year of the Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford and the first year of Ireland’s participation. The report is the largest comparative survey on digital news consumption in the world. Ireland’s inclusion has been facilitated by sponsorship by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and will track trends in the Irish online news audience over three years. The research was conducted via an online questionnaire. The total sample size for Ireland was 1,501 adults accessing news online once a month or more. The sample is reflective of the population that has access to the internet. Figures for the research have been weighted to be representative of all ROI adults in terms of age, gender and region.
The Reuters Digital News Report can be accessed via www.digitalnewsreport.org
The Reuters Digital News Report 2015 (Ireland) can be accessed via www.fujomedia.eu
 Fig. 11 of FuJo report
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