Your country and your age might influence how you access news

A report shows that Germans still prefer a newspaper, while online news has overtaken print and TV news as the most frequently used medium in the UK and US for those using computers, mobile phones and tablets for news.

One in five people in the UK now shares news stories every week through social networks or e-mail. However, the report also suggests out of the five countries studied, consumers in the UK were the most resistant to the idea of paying for online news.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report, published today by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, is based on the findings of YouGov surveys in UK, US, France, Germany and Denmark. The report finds that more than a quarter (28%) of those surveyed in the US and UK access news via their mobile each week. Six out of ten tablet owners in the UK said they regularly accessed online news.

In the UK, mobile phone users are more concerned about the cost of accessing news (32%) than those who accessed news on a computer. Some 58% of tablet users, who are generally from a higher-income bracket, use the device to access news every week and are more likely to pay for news content; newspaper brands with paid apps did significantly better on a tablet than on the open internet.

Of those surveyed, four out of ten tablet users said accessing news on the device is a better experience than on a personal computer. Overall, in the UK only four per cent of those surveyed said they had paid for online news, while Denmark had the highest percentage (12%) of consumers, of the countries studied, who have paid for online news.

Report author Nic Newman, a Research Associate at Oxford University's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said: 'For many people digital news is now the first place to go for the latest news, rivalling television as the most frequently accessed type of news in the UK and the US.  

'Of those surveyed, nearly eight out of ten people  accessed online news every week, but the transition from print to digital is much slower in other European countries. The report suggests that the Germans were the least likely to access news online of the five countries studied with almost seven out of ten, of those surveyed, saying they still read a newspaper.'

The report also shows that in the UK, celebrity news is perceived to be more important – and news about politics less important – compared to the other countries surveyed. There is more interest in business and economic news in the UK and the US than in the European countries surveyed.

The young also watch fewer traditional television news bulletins than older people. The young listen to far less news on radio, but spend far more time accessing news on their mobiles than older people says the report.  The young are also more likely to use social media rather than search for news, whereas for older groups it is the other way round.

In general, the study found, Europe lags behind the US in both the sharing of news and other forms of digital participation. In the UK, Facebook is the most important network for news, accounting for over half (55%) of all news sharing, followed by email (33%) and Twitter (23%).

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report is the first in a series of reports that the RISJ hopes to publish over the coming years, tracking the changes in the public’s use of digital and traditional media to access news. The online surveys were conducted for Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism by YouGov in April 2012. The report reflects only the views of online users and excludes respondents who expressed no interest in accessing news at all.

YouGov conducted online surveys with representative samples from five countries: In the UK, a total of 2,487 people (including 314 tablet owners); in the US, a total of 814; in France, a total of 1,011; in Germany, a total of 970; and in Denmark, a total of 1,002. All the surveys were conducted in April 2012. The research for the Reuters Institute Digital News Report was supported by YouGov, Ofcom, BBC, and the City University, London.