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Indians now prefer to consume news digitally rather than from TV or newspaper

Only 5% of Indian respondents paid for online news in the past year, showing that most people prefer free news

In a significant turn of events, digital news is becoming more popular in India as internet access and smartphone use increase. A recent report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism shows that more people are turning to online platforms to consume news instead of traditional media like newspapers and TV.

The ‘Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2024’, which surveyed people between January and February this year, underscores this trend. The report states, “In India, increasing internet access and smartphone usage are driving more people to consume news online rather than through traditional media channels like newspapers or television.”

Despite the shift to digital, many media companies are struggling to make money from online content. Only 5% of Indian respondents paid for online news in the past year, showing that most people prefer free news.

Trust in the media is a significant concern. Only 32% of people said they trust the news most of the time. Many believe that news sources are biased, inaccurate, and not transparent.

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News fatigue is becoming common among Indians. The report found that 39% of people avoid the news because it is repetitive or too negative. This means that many feel stressed out by constant news about conflicts, disasters, and politics.

To better connect with audiences, Indian media are trying new formats like podcasts and videos. Podcasts are especially popular with younger people, offering fresh ways to tell stories.

The ‘Digital News Report 2022’ also provides insights into India’s digital news scene. It found that social media is the top source of news for many Indians, with 63% using it to get news in the week before the survey. This is more than the 59% who used TV and 49% who used print media. YouTube and WhatsApp are also popular for news, with 53% and 51% of people using them, respectively.

The 2022 report, based on a survey of 2,035 Indians, states that “India is a strongly mobile-focused market, with 72% accessing news through smartphones and just 35% via computers.” It also reports that survey respondents are “generally more affluent, younger, have higher levels of formal education, and are more likely to live in cities than the wider Indian population.”

Many people around the world are avoiding the news because it focuses too much on politics and COVID-19 and because it negatively affects their moods. The report observed that news consumption has dropped in many countries, and selective news avoidance has increased.

Online news sites are competing fiercely, with traditional media struggling against new digital-only brands that do independent journalism. These new brands often rely on donations and grants to make money.

Social media’s rise as a news source is worrying for policymakers because of the spread of misinformation and online abuse. Reports suggest that some of this behavior is coordinated by groups close to major political parties.

Globally, trust in the news is down in almost half of the 46 countries surveyed. Finland has the highest trust level at 69%, while the USA has the lowest at 26%.

Young people are increasingly getting their news from social media platforms like TikTok. The report notes that getting young people to pay for news is tough, with the average digital news subscriber being nearly 50 years old.

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