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48% of Canadians consume online news several times daily

By Rahul Sethi

As appearing on the INMA blog on May 6, 2019.

In 2018, Vividata, in partnership with Kantar, released the Canadian Trust in News Study. This study examined how Canadians feel about their news sources in the era of ‘fake news’, their preferred and trusted sources, and the importance of quality journalism.

Results from this study present three key facts about the Canadian news audience, however that are also likely fitting for other nations.

1. People have a strong interest in in news.

7 out of 10 Canadian adults identify as having a ‘strong interest’ in news (see Figure 1).  Not surprisingly, this interest varies with age, but contrary to popular belief, even a majority of 18-24 year old’s have a strong interest in news. This strong interest across age groups shows that news content continues to command consumer engagement. With regard to the top three types of content Canadian news audiences have most interest in, ‘news about my region, city or town’ takes the number one spot, followed by ‘international news’ and then ‘Canadian political news’.

2. News audiences use multiple sources for news.

The news audience is not loyal to one specific news brand. On average, Canadians access 3 different types of media for news throughout the week (e.g. newspapers, TV, radio, online, etc.).  For printed national newspaper brand audiences specifically, this figure jumps to 5 sources, an indicator of a strong appetite for news among audiences of national newspaper brands.

Interest in the news is also on the rise among news audiences in general; 1 in 4 used a greater number of news sources in 2018 than they did in 2017.  This trend is greater among younger audiences with 31% of 18-24 year-olds recording an increase in sources used, illustrating that younger audiences are engaged by news content, but this is likely driven more by current news items than by the brand delivering the news.

3. Audiences catch-up on news daily, especially online.

Canadians frequent news outlets daily. 48% of Canadian news audiences catch-up on news several times a day using various sources. Another 37% do so at least once a day (see Figure 3). Essentially, every day, 85% of news audiences are actively consuming news content from various news media. Online news is the leading medium for news audiences. Each week, 70% of Canadians access news from any online platform, including digital only news outlets, social media, or newspaper, magazine, radio or TV websites or applications. The rise of digital platforms continues to be driven by 18-34 year old’s, with three quarters of them accessing news online.

4. Mobile and social are all about convenience.

With regard to accessing online news, it’s no surprise that smartphones are the mobile device of choice. Smartphones provide an unparalleled digital experience. They provide a quicker, more integrated portal into accessing news through social media; currently the most popular way to access news online. And for those that access news through social media, it is a lot about convenience. Social media users can read the news on the go and easily access a wide variety of sources, while also seeing what friends and other relations care about. But, where social media gains in convenience, it lacks in trust.

5. Newspaper brands are trusted for quality commentary and analysis. Though social media is the most used online news source, social media en masse is the least trusted source for news. And it’s important to note that social media is an amalgamation of various content sources, including news brands. Overall, daily newspaper brands are the most trusted source for in-depth commentary and analysis. This heritage of trust and a reputation for credible journalism in printed newspapers can be, and for many publishers is being, reflected in their digital offerings to good effect.

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