There’s few sources I rely on more for strategic insight than the Reuters Institute for Journalism. And so the publication of their annual Digital News Report has become a big day in my calendar.
I’m guessing many will read this year’s report and get stuck at the glass-almost-empty conclusion: “Most people are not prepared to pay for online news today and on current trends look unlikely to pay in the future”.
But dig deeper…
The report shows the hunger for trusted journalism is greater than ever. More people are paying for news. And the positive trends are most pronounced among younger news consumers.
But the news business is failing them. News consumers grow tired of constantly bumping into a single paywall for a single source.
“There is no fatigue with paying for quality content,” says the report. “The fatigue is with “a single ‘winner takes all’ approach.”
Furthermore, “Our research suggests there may be a disconnect between current publisher strategies of selling individual titles (for a relatively high price) and consumer desire for frictionless access to multiple brands.”
More than half of under-35s consume four or more news sources a week but the overwhelming majority will only pay for one. They continue to rely on social platforms and aggregators to curate news to the rhythm of their lives.
Younger audiences prefer free, but will pay. They just “don’t want to go back to how the media used to be.” And that means publishers need to collaborate more, to create “bundles” of quality journalism.
And above all else, pay attention to the overwhelmingly mobile rhythm of news consumption; to how, when and why citizens connect with their journalism.