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TheJournal.ie is now the main online news source for Irish people

A third of the Irish market checked TheJournal.ie this week according to Reuters Institute Digital News Report.

Option 2 Source: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

THEJOURNAL.IE is now the online news publication most used as a main news source by the Irish public, according to a major new report.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report for 2017 shows that TheJournal.ie is most likely to be cited by news consumers as their go-to source for news online every week. The news publication, founded in 2010, is now the top online brand for the Irish market – 32% of those surveyed for the BAI-funded report said they had accessed it as their main source of news in the past week.

It is followed by RTÉ News online at 31% and Irish Independent online at 30%. The Irish Times online offering comes in fourth at 23% with other online brands following behind.

TheJournal.ie is also the online news brand which is accessed most often in a week. The report found that one-fifth (19%) of those questioned had used TheJournal.ie for three days or more in a week. This is on a par with RTÉ News online and the Irish Independent.

reuters Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report Ireland 2017 via BAI

Trust

In a year where the term ‘fake news’ has gained traction in popular discourse, there has been a slight dip – although not perhaps as significant as might have been expected – in consumers’ trust levels in news publications overall. Almost half (47%) of those surveyed trust the news they consume while just over a quarter (26%) say they don’t. Those percentages last year were 50% and 21%, respectively.

“This [trust] figure increases slightly when consumers are asked specifically about trust in the news they consume,” the report noted.

Irish news consumers – according to the global Reuters Institute Digital News Report, also released today - are 14th out of 36 countries surveyed in trusting the news. Our trust levels are higher than those in the UK and the US.

However, the level of trust a news consumer has in broadcasters or publications is highly influenced by their age – younger people tended to trust the news less than older people (for example 33% of 18-24 year olds say they trust the news ‘most of the time’ whereas that figure is 56% for people over the age of 55).

The age divide

The age of the news consumer as a determining factor in how they consume, approach and deal with the news is a common thread throughout the report.

There are some clear divisions between older and younger consumers, for example:

- People under the age of 35 are more likely to avoid the news from time to time – those over 35 are much less likely to do so. The reason given most often for avoiding news is that it “has a negative effect on my mood” (53%) followed by “I don’t feel there is anything I can do about it” (28%).

-  When it comes to the type of news consumed, older people are more interested in regional and international news and political updates while under-35s are more interested in science and technology news, lifestyle news, business and economic news (slightly), ‘weird and funny’ news, arts and culture, entertainment and celebrity news.

- The over 55s are more likely to get their news from newspapers, TV and radio than younger age groups who go to online sources, including social media.

- Younger people more likely by far to use smartphones to access their news – laptops and desktop computers are much more prevalent for online access among the 45+ age groups.

news1 Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report Ireland 2017 via BAI

TV is still the most dominant platform for accessing news with 68% of people saying they had used it as a news source in the past week. However, that figure for online news publishers (not social media or blogs) is close at 66%, while 52% got their news at least once a week from social media, 46% from radio and 40% from printed newspapers.

Dr Jane Suiter, head of the Institute for the Future of Journalism (Fujo) at DCU which compiled the report with the BAI, noted a “major consumption shift” in the form of private messenger apps such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger to disseminate and consume news.

Whatsapp is showing particular growth among Irish consumers, both for news and non-news purposes. This table shows that growth (and a decline in the use of Facebook):

messenger Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report Ireland 2017 via BAI

Paying for news

The global report, which collates surveys from 36 countries including Ireland, noted a phenomenon it dubbed the ‘Trump bump’ when it came to increased paid subscriptions (9 to 16%) to news outlets. “Most of those new payments have come from the young – a powerful corrective to the idea that young people are not prepared to pay for online media, let alone news,” the report author’s noted.

In Ireland, paid subscriptions rose from 9% to 10% from 2016 to 2017. The category most inclined to pay for news was the 25-34 age group (13%), while the 45-54 age group was lowest at 7% and over 55s at 8%. The three biggest reasons people had for paying an online news subscription was that they were “offered a good deal” (32%), it allowed access from smartphone or tablet (25%), and that it was “cheaper than paying for offline access (eg print or TV) (23%). “I want to help fund journalism” came in fourth at 18%.

When it comes to subscription-free online news services in Ireland, ad blockers come into play in relation to consumers ‘paying’ or ‘not paying’ for news. “The older the consumer the less likely to use ad blockers,” the report states. The global report indicates that ad-blocking is much higher on desktop computers (21%) than on smartphones, where it remains relatively low at 7% on average across all countries surveyed.

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