Big increase in young people using TV as main news source, research finds

ireland
Big Increase In Young People Using Tv As Main News Source, Research Finds
30/03/2021 RTE, Virgin Media & Newstalk Microphones on Merrion Street, Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
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Tomas Doherty

The percentage of Irish young people using television as their main source of news has almost doubled, research suggests.

Some 28 per cent of young people cited TV as their main news source this year, up 13 percentage points on 2020, the Reuters Digital News Report for Ireland found.

This is largely at the expense of social media, which has dropped 15 percentage points in one year to 31 per cent among 18 to 24-year-olds.

The huge increase in TV audiences has coincided with trust in the news media in Ireland increasing overall, while Irish news consumers are both more interested in news and more likely to pay for news than their European or UK counterparts.

The research of more than 2,000 people also found that WhatsApp is now the most popular social media platform in Ireland for any reason, overtaking Facebook.

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This year’s report includes analysis of international and Irish trends in the online news audience, trust in news sources, and paying for news.

The analysis finds breakingnews.ie is the fifth most frequently used digital brand in Ireland, ahead of the Irish Examiner online and the Irish Mirror online.

RTÉ, TheJournal.ie, independent.ie and irishtimes.com make up the remaining top digital news brands in Ireland.

Some 70 per cent of Irish respondents said they were extremely or very interested in news, an increase of five percentage points on 2020 figures.

The percentage of Irish respondents interested in news is higher than the EU average at 60 per cent, the UK at 51 per cent and North America at 54 per cent.

The level of trust in media is also higher in Ireland than the EU, the UK and North America.

The number of consumers who cite television as their main source of news in Ireland has risen by eight percentage points to 41 per cent.

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The next most popular source of news is online – excluding social media and blogs – at 29 per cent and social media at 16 per cent, down four percentage points.

The number of consumers citing radio as their main source of news has fallen by four percentage points, to 9 per cent, and the number citing printed newspapers has fallen by two percentage points, to 4 per cent.

Lead researcher Prof Colleen Murrell, from the Institute for Future Media, Democracy and Society (FuJo) at Dublin City University, said it was “heartening” to see a growing interest in news and politics, particularly among the young.

She said: “We believe that the huge increase in the number of younger consumers citing TV as their main source of news may be linked to moving home and spending time with family members who have the TV on for health briefings and news bulletins.”

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