recent media report

Overview and key findings of the 2022 Digital News Report

recent media report

Last year’s report contained some positive signs for the news industry, with higher consumption and rising trust amidst a second wave of Coronavirus lockdowns. Many traditional news brands seemed to benefit not just from greater attention, but also financially, with more people taking out online subscriptions and advertisers looking to associate themselves with reliable content.

A year on and we find a slightly less optimistic picture. While a break-out group of primarily upmarket news publishers across the world report record digital subscription numbers and growing revenues, more broadly, we find that interest in news and overall news consumption has declined considerably in many countries while trust has fallen back almost everywhere – though it mostly remains higher than before the Coronavirus crisis began. We’re also seeing news fatigue setting in – not just around COVID-19 but around politics and a range of other subjects – with the number of people actively avoiding news increasing markedly.

Since our main data set was collected in early February, a new threat to global security has emerged in the form of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This event clearly increased news consumption across all news sources, but a second Digital News Report survey in five countries undertaken in early April saw further levels of selective avoidance, even in countries like Poland and Germany that have been directly impacted by the conflict. We devote a special chapter to the impact of the Ukraine crisis and attitudes towards media coverage.

An episode on the report

A clear throughline in this year’s report is the changing habits of younger groups, specifically those under 30, whom news organisations often struggle to reach. Throughout this Executive Summary, and in a separate chapter, we find that this group that has grown up with social media is not just different but more different than they were in the past. We also explore their use of newer visual networks for news such as TikTok and Instagram, with support from a detailed qualitative study in three countries (UK, US, and Brazil).

More widely, this year’s data confirm how the various shocks of the last few years, including the Coronavirus pandemic, have further accelerated structural shifts towards a more digital, mobile, and platform-dominated media environment, with further implications for the business models and formats of journalism.

In our country and market pages, which combine industry developments with key local data points, we see how different media companies are coping with these various headwinds. We find a mixed picture of downsizing and layoffs in some places, but optimism around business models, industry cooperation, and format innovation in others. And everywhere we find growing concerns about a looming cost-of-living crisis that could be making people rethink how much they can afford to spend on news media.

This eleventh edition of our Digital News Report , based on data from six continents and 46 markets, aims to cast light on the key issues that face the industry. Our more global sample, which since 2021 has included India, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Colombia, and Peru, provides some understanding of how differently the news environment operates outside the United States and Europe. The overall story is captured in this Executive Summary, followed by Section 1, with chapters containing additional analysis, and then individual country and market pages in Section 2 with extra data and context.

A summary of some of the most important findings from our 2022 research.

Trust in the news has fallen in almost half the countries in our survey, and risen in just seven, partly reversing the gains made at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. On average, around four in ten of our total sample (42%) say they trust most news most of the time. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%), while news trust in the USA has fallen by a further three percentage points and remains the lowest (26%) in our survey.

Consumption of traditional media, such as TV and print, declined further in the last year in almost all markets (pre-Ukraine invasion), with online and social consumption not making up the gap. While the majority remain very engaged, others are turning away from the news media and in some cases disconnecting from news altogether. Interest in news has fallen sharply across markets, from 63% in 2017 to 51% in 2022.

Meanwhile, the proportion of news consumers who say they avoid news, often or sometimes, has increased sharply across countries. This type of selective avoidance has doubled in both Brazil (54%) and the UK (46%) over the last five years, with many respondents saying news has a negative effect on their mood. A significant proportion of younger and less educated people say they avoid news because it can be hard to follow or understand – suggesting that the news media could do much more to simplify language and better explain or contextualise complex stories.

In the five countries we surveyed after the war in Ukraine had begun, we find that television news is relied on most heavily – with countries closest to the fighting, such as Germany and Poland, seeing the biggest increases in consumption. Selective news avoidance has, if anything, increased further – likely due to the difficult and depressing nature of the coverage.

Global concerns about false and misleading information remain stable this year, ranging from 72% in Kenya and Nigeria to just 32% in Germany and 31% in Austria. People say they have seen more false information about Coronavirus than about politics in most countries, but the situation is reversed in Turkey, Kenya, and the Philippines, amongst others.

Despite increases in the proportion paying for online news in a small number of richer countries (Australia, Germany, and Sweden), there are signs that overall growth may be levelling off. Across a basket of 20 countries where payment is widespread, 17% paid for any online news – the same figure as last year. Persuading younger people to pay remains a critical issue for industry, with the average age of a digital news subscriber almost 50.

A large proportion of digital subscriptions go to just a few big national brands – reinforcing the winner takes most dynamics that we have reported in the past. But in the United States and Australia we are now seeing the majority of those paying taking out more than one  subscription. This reflects the increased supply of differentiated paid news products in areas such as political opinion, local news, and a range of specific niches – holding out hope that more people will ultimately pay for multiple titles.

But in the face of rapidly rising household bills, we find some respondents rethink the number of media subscriptions they can afford this year – which include news, television, music, and books. While most say they expect to retain the same number of media subscriptions, others say they expect to take out fewer , as they look to save money on non-essential items.

With first-party data collection becoming more important for publishers with the imminent demise of third-party cookies, we find that most consumers are still reluctant to register their email address with news sites. Across our entire sample, only around a third (32%) say they trust news websites to use their personal data responsibly – comparable to online retailers such as Amazon – and the figure is even lower in the United States (18%) and France (19%).

Access to news continues to become more distributed. Across all markets, less than a quarter (23%) prefer to start their news journeys with a website or app, down nine points since 2018. Those aged 18–24 have an even weaker connection with websites and apps, preferring to access news via side-door routes such as social media, search, and mobile aggregators.

Facebook remains the most-used social network for news but users are more likely to say they see too much news in their feed compared with other networks. While older groups remain loyal to the platform, we show how the youngest generation has switched much of its attention to more visual networks over the last three years.

TikTok has become the fastest growing network in this year’s survey, reaching 40% of 18–24s, with 15% using the platform for news. Usage is much higher in parts of Latin America, Asia, and Africa than it is in the United States or Northern Europe. Telegram has also grown significantly in some markets, providing a flexible alternative to Meta-owned WhatsApp.

While social media have increased the profile of many digital journalists, we find that the most well-known journalists are still TV anchors and presenters in most countries. When asked to name journalists they pay attention to, few people can name foreign correspondents, while newspaper columnists have higher name recognition in the UK and Finland than in Brazil, the United States, or France.

The smartphone has become the dominant way in which most people first access news in the morning, though we find different patterns across countries. In Norway, Spain, Finland, and the UK, the smartphone is now accessed first ahead of television, while radio retains an important role in Ireland. Morning newspaper reading is still surprisingly popular in the Netherlands; television still dominates in Japan.

After last year’s slowdown in part caused by restrictions on movement during the COVID-19 pandemic, growth in podcasts seems to have resumed, with 34% consuming one or more podcasts in the last month. Our data show Spotify continuing to gain ground over Apple and Google podcasts in a number of countries and YouTube also benefiting from the popularity of video-led and hybrid podcasts.

Consumption patterns reveal disconnection and disengagement with news – amongst some news consumers

While a succession of crises including the pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the importance of independent professional journalism, and significant growth for some individual media brands, we find that many people are becoming increasingly disconnected from news – with falling interest in many countries, a rise in selective news avoidance, and low trust further underlining the critical challenge news media face today: connecting with people who have access to an unprecedented amount of content online and convincing them that paying attention to news is worth their while.

We now have solid data spanning ten years that enable us to see consistent and relentless falls across countries in the reach of traditional channels such as print, radio, and television news. At the same time, we find that online reach is flat or, at best, increasing slightly – but certainly not making up the gap. Digital and social media offer a much wider range of stories, but this environment can often be overwhelming and confusing. While many people remain extremely active and engaged with online news, the abundance of choice in an online context may be leading others to engage far less regularly than they did in the past.

In the chart below, which shows weekly access in the United States between 2013 and 2022, we have added an extra line for those who say they accessed none of the listed options in the week they completed our survey. This has grown from 3% in 2013 to 15% in 2022.

While the United States seems to have the largest group of disconnected news users, we see similarly high figures in Japan (15%) the United Kingdom (9%), France (8%), and Australia (8%). Even Germany, a country with often very traditional media habits, is not immune. Since 2013, weekly print consumption has fallen from 63% to 26% and TV news usage from 82% to 65%. Although online and social media have grown a little, overtaking television for the first time, we also find growing numbers who seem to be disconnecting from news altogether – this proportion reaching 5% in 2022.

It is important to note that high levels of disconnection are not evident everywhere. The proportion consuming none of our listed news sources weekly is limited in Portugal (2%) and Finland (2%) and extremely rare in South Africa (1%), Nigeria (<1%), and Kenya (<1%), even though we also see growing pressure on traditional sources of news such as print and television news in these countries.

Falling interest in the news

Disconnection is just one sign of the difficulties of engaging some audiences in a more digital environment. At the same time we find that the proportion that says they are very or extremely interested in news has fallen sharply over time across markets – a trend that has accelerated despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. This year we find news interest lower in the vast majority of countries in our survey. In some countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and the United Kingdom, these falls have been going on for some time, while in the United States we see a slightly different pattern. Interest remained high during the Trump years but seems to have declined significantly since Joe Biden became president. Today, less than half of our sample (47%) say they are very or extremely interested in news compared with 67% in 2015.

Again, it is important to note that there are some countries that buck these trends or where declines are happening more slowly. These include richer Central/Western European nations where there has been less political or economic turmoil over the past few years.

Proportion who are very or extremely interested in news (2015-2022) Selected countries with largest falls

Selected countries with more stable levels

Q1c. How interested, if at all, would you say you are in news? Base: Total 2015–22 samples (n ≈ 2000).

These data suggest two different but related problems. First, the emergence of a minority of people who are active online, many of them younger or less well educated, but who have become largely disconnected from the news, perhaps because they don’t feel that it is relevant to their lives. And then, separately, we find a more generalised decline in news interest and consumption affecting a much bigger group, which may relate to structural changes in the way the news is distributed, such as the shift to online, the nature of the news cycle itself, or both.

Selective news avoidance and its implications

While the majority of people across countries remain engaged and use the news regularly, we find that many also increasingly choose to ration or limit their exposure to it – or at least to certain types of news. We call this behaviour selective news avoidance and the growth of this activity may help to explain why consumption levels have mostly not increased, despite the uncertain times in which we live. The proportion that says they avoid the news, sometimes or often, has doubled in Brazil (54%) and the UK (46%) since 2017 – and also increased in all other markets (see next chart). This type of selective avoidance seems to be less widespread in Northern European countries such as Germany (29%), Denmark, and Finland (20%), as well as in some Asian countries such as Japan (14%).

Selective news avoiders give a variety of reasons for their behaviour. Across markets, many respondents say they are put off by the repetitiveness of the news agenda – especially around politics and COVID-19 (43%), or that they often feel worn out by the news (29%). A significant proportion say they avoid news because they think it can’t be trusted (29%). Around a third (36%), particularly those who are under 35, say that the news brings down their mood. Others say the news leads to arguments they would rather avoid (17%), or leads to feelings of powerlessness (16%). A small proportion say they don’t have enough time for news (14%) or that it is too hard to understand (8%).

Most common reasons for news avoidance

All markets

Coronavirus icon

say there is too much politics and COVID-19

Mood icon

say news has negative effect on mood

Worn out icon

say they are worn out by amount of news

Biased icon

say the news is untrustworthy or biased

Arguments icon

say it leads to arguments I'd rather avoid

Confused icon

say there is nothing I can do with the information

Q1di_2017ii. Why do you find yourself actively trying to avoid the news? Base: All who avoid the news often, sometimes, or occasionally. All markets = 64,120.

Concerns about the news having a negative effect on their mood are higher amongst avoiders in the United Kingdom (55%) and United States (49%) than they are elsewhere.

Political allegiances can also make a striking difference to why people choose to avoid news. In the United States, those who self-identify on the right are far more likely to avoid news because they think it is untrustworthy or biased, but those on the left are more likely to feel overwhelmed, carry feelings of powerlessness, or worry that the news might create arguments.

These findings will be particularly challenging for the news industry. Subjects that journalists consider most important, such as political crises, international conflicts, global pandemics, and climate catastrophes, seem to be precisely the ones that are turning some people away from news – especially amongst those who are younger or harder to reach.

Many news organisations are embracing approaches such as solutions journalism around subjects like climate change, that aim to give people a sense of hope or personal agency. Others are looking to find ways to widen the agenda to softer subjects or make news more relevant at a personal level, but there will be a limit to how far journalists can go – or should go – to make the news more palatable.

News is too hard for many people to work out

One other important data point relates to the difficulty that many younger audiences, and less educated groups, have in understanding journalism as currently practised. In countries such as Australia, the United States, and Brazil, around 15% of younger avoiders say they find news hard to follow – a much higher proportion than older news consumers.

This could relate to the complexity of the language or assumed knowledge often contained in news reports. But the increase in news consumption via social media or word of mouth through friends and family, may also be playing a part. News is often accessed by young people in more fragmented ways, meaning that people sometimes miss key context that was previously carefully packaged into linear narratives by the mainstream media.

During the COVID-19 crisis (and now Ukraine) we saw many news organisations using explainer and Question & Answer formats to try to address these issues on websites and via social media to engage younger and less educated audiences. Our data suggest this process needs to go much further.

Trust falls back after COVID-19 bumps

This year we find lower levels of overall trust in 21 of our 46 markets, partly reversing the gains made at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. Eighteen markets are at a similar level, with just seven on an upward path. The average level of trust (42%) is also a little lower than last year and trust in individual news brands is on a downward trend in most countries.

Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (69%) – up four points on last year and 13 points on 2020. At the other end of the scale, news trust in the USA (26%) has fallen by a further three percentage points and remains the lowest level in our survey along with Slovakia (26%). Notable changes in Europe include falls in Romania (-9), Croatia (-7), Poland (-6), Switzerland (-5), Austria (-5), Greece (-5), Italy (-5), and Spain (-4). In Latin America, trust is down in Brazil (-6) and Colombia (-3), but level or slightly up elsewhere. It is a mixed picture in Africa, with a fall in Kenya (-4) but strong growth in South Africa (+9) and Nigeria (+4). Finally, in Asia, trust has risen in the Philippines (+5) and Japan (+2) but is down in Malaysia (-5) and Taiwan (-4).

In some regions we find a widening gap between markets with the highest levels of trust and those with the lowest. We also find that those markets with the most trust – such as Finland – also tend to have higher interest in news and lower levels of active news avoidance. By contrast, low trust countries, such as the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Slovakia, see some of the highest levels of selective avoidance, as well as news disconnection, with declining interest in news.

It is important to put this year’s trust changes in context. In most cases the headline trust level is still higher than it was before the Coronavirus pandemic reinforced the importance of reliable media for many people. On the other hand, the chart below also reminds us that, in many countries, trust had been on a downward trajectory for some time – partly driven by a series of polarising events like Brexit in the UK, the turmoil of the Trump years in the United States, and the Gilets Jaunes protests in France. In this context, last year’s COVID-19 optimism looks more like a short-term rally rather than any kind of longer-term renaissance. In all the examples below, apart from Finland, trust is still considerably lower than in 2015.

Across our data set, and in wider research on this issue (Toff et al. 2021; Ross Arguedas et al. 2022), we find that indifference to news and its value, along with widespread perception of political and other biases by the media, are two of the main reasons for low trust. In the United States, politics is particularly central, and those who self-identify on the right are more than twice as likely to distrust the news compared with those on the left. In early 2021 only 14% of those on the political right said they trusted the news, which helps to explain how the false and misleading ‘stolen election’ narrative promoted by some politicians, activists, and partisan media personalities got so much traction, not least after President Donald Trump’s talk about a liberal mainstream media peddling ‘fake news’. By contrast, in Finland we see almost no difference in news trust based on politics, though even here the cut and thrust of a parliamentary election in late 2019 may have contributed to a slight dip in trust.

In other cases, lack of trust in the news is less about ideological political divides and more about a split between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. In France, for example, we find that divisions are more about income and education rather than party allegiance. During the Gilets Jaunes protests, for example, the news media was often seen as aligning itself with the elites, while journalists were also targeted in Canada during trucker protests this year. In both countries, we find significant trust gaps over income or education.

In other parts of the world, lack of trust is closely related to the issue of interference by politicians, businesspeople, or both. This is a particular issue in Central and Eastern Europe where oligarchs close to ruling parties control much of the media, or where governments regularly withhold advertising from publications they don’t like. Only a small minority think the news is free from undue political influence in Greece (7%), Hungary (15%), Bulgaria (15%), Slovakia (16%), Czech Republic (17%), Croatia (18%), and Poland (19%). We see similarly low levels in some Southern European countries, such as Italy (13%) and Spain (13%), where there is also a strong tradition of party-political influence over the media. Compare this with Finland (50%), where people have much higher confidence in the independence of the journalism they see from undue political influence.

It is a similar story when it comes to perceptions of undue business influence, with almost identical scores in most markets. This suggests that consumers either have a clear-eyed view of the connections between politicians and businesspeople, or that they have a more generalised lack of trust about those in power and the relations they have with the news media.

However, a large minority also question the priorities of news organisations themselves. Across all markets, just 19% say all or most news organisations put what’s best for society ahead of their own commercial or political interests. In fact, many more people say that all or most put their own political views (40%) or commercial interests (42%) ahead of society. These views are held by around 20% in countries with high trust in news, such as Finland, but are held by around 45% in the US, the UK, and a majority in parts of Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. This may reflect cynicism about the underlying motivations of many publishers, or perhaps hardened realism about what many commercial news organisations must do to survive. Either way it reminds us that, although people often recognise the pressures they face, few people think that most news organisations fight powerful interests on behalf of society in practice.

Trust in news brands: the particular case of public service media

Underpinning news trust in many Northern and Western European countries, as well as Canada and Australia, we find a number of public service broadcasting organisations with a strong track record of independence. These generally appear at the top of our brand trust lists in each country and are often the first port of call for audiences when looking for reliable news around important stories such as COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict. These institutions have a very different reputation to public and state broadcasters in Southern and Eastern Europe that often take a more partisan editorial line.

But independent public media are under increasing pressure in a number of countries, with attacks on funding, questions about impartiality, and challenges in reaching younger audiences who are increasingly turning to digital and social media. The BBC faces another round of cuts after a difficult licence settlement while DR, the Danish public broadcaster, recently cut three linear channels as part of a wider restructuring after a narrow parliamentary majority imposed a major cut in funding. Against this background, it is interesting to see how well trust is holding up, with some very notable exceptions. Nordic PSBs as well as those of other smaller countries like Ireland and Portugal have retained or even increased trust since 2018, but it has been a very different story in the UK, Australia, and Canada, with significant falls for the main public broadcasters.

The BBC, which remains the most widely used news source in the UK, reported record audiences in the first weeks of the Ukraine crisis, 1 but it has also come under intense criticism for its reporting of a range of more divisive issues – notably Brexit but also immigration, race, gender identity, and attitudes to COVID-19 vaccinations. In many cases, these criticisms of the BBC have been amplified on social media, with senior correspondents exposed to physical attacks along with personal abuse on social media. 2

Trust in BBC News has fallen 20 percentage points in the last five years, from 75% to 55%. Equally telling is the proportion who say they distrust the BBC, which has grown from 11% to 26% (see next chart). The majority of these are from the political right, echoing criticism from Boris Johnson’s government about an alleged anti-Brexit and liberal bias, but we also find that low trust in the BBC also comes from those who are less interested in news altogether. It is important to note that other big brands in the UK (e.g. the Guardian and the Mail ) have been affected by growing levels of distrust, though not as severely. Declining trust is a particular challenge for public media organisations, as they try to fulfil their mission to appeal to all audiences.

The continued audience success of some European public media makes them a particular target for those who want to influence the debates on politics and wider issues around culture. Our survey shows that journalists from these organisations are often first to be recognised by the public. The outgoing BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg is by far the most well-known journalist in the UK, according to respondents to our survey, even when it comes to digital news. Broadcasters with a commitment to impartiality, including the BBC, make up 62% of all mentions. Journalists from public media also feature strongly in data from Finland, France, and Germany. But it is a very different story in the United States, where partisan cable TV hosts Tucker Carlson, Rachel Maddow, and Sean Hannity attract the most attention.

Best known journalists in Northern/Western Europe have reputation for impartiality

Laura Kuenssberg. Credit BBC.

Laura Kuenssberg BBC Political Editor (outgoing), UK

Marietta Slomka ZDF TV Anchor, Germany

Matti Rönkä Yle TV Anchor, Finland

Best known journalists in USA have reputation for strong opinions

Tucker Carlson. Credit: Gage Skidmore.

Tucker Carlson TV Anchor, Fox News

Sean Hannity Fox News

Rachel Maddow MSNBC

Should journalists remain impartial when on social media?

With more journalists building channels and direct relationships on social media, there is a growing debate about how they should interact when on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These are informal spaces where social media users can let their hair down and show more personality. But how compatible is this with the impartial or objective approaches still practised by many media brands (and that last year we found many members of the public value)?

In our survey, around half of respondents or more in most countries feel that journalists should stick to reporting the news, but a sizeable minority believed they should be allowed to express their personal opinions on social media at the same time. Brazil and Japan seem to be outliers here, showing opposite views.

But as we also found in last year’s Digital News Report study on impartiality (Vir 2021), there are clear generational differences, with younger groups holding a stronger preference for journalists being able to express their personal opinions freely on social media. As some media organisations tighten social media guidelines, they are facing resistance from younger journalists who take a different view, and are trying to push the boundaries. This is just another way in which journalistic norms are being challenged by social and digital media.

Paying for news, subscription fatigue, and the battle for registration

In the last few years, many publishers have been increasing efforts to get audiences to pay for content online via subscription, membership, or donations – to reduce their reliance on advertising revenue, which online tends to flow towards the big platforms such as Google and Meta (formerly Facebook). These are now worldwide trends, and our country pages document how leading publishers in Argentina, Colombia, Japan, Nigeria, and Kenya, for example, have recently launched or consolidated paywalls.

This year’s data show mixed progress, with significant increases in a small number of wealthier countries, though there are signs elsewhere that growth may be levelling off. Across a basket of 20 countries where payment is relatively widespread, 17% paid for any online news – the same figure as last year. Norway continues to lead the way (41%), followed by Sweden (33%), Finland (19%), and the United States (19%). Australia (18%) and Germany (14%) showed the biggest increases this year at five percentage points in each case. By contrast, our survey data in Norway and the United States show a slight decline this year, though in both cases industry figures suggest that there has still been some progress. Either way, longer term trends do suggest a slowing down in some of these early-mover markets – raising questions about whether they might be reaching a more mature phase.

This year we asked those paying for online news to name the brands they subscribed to. In some countries, we find a high degree of market concentration, with around half the subscriptions in the US going to the New York Times , Washington Post , and Wall Street Journal . In Finland, half of subscribers (50%) pay for just one publication – Helsingin Sanomat , the country’s paper of record – sometimes in combination with a local publication. Over half (53%) pay for a local or regional title in Norway, with high numbers in all the other Nordic countries as well as Germany (35%) and the United States (27%). By contrast, just 5% of subscribers pay for a local title in the UK and 3% in Portugal.

Another striking finding is that, across countries, the vast majority of those paying are older, with an average age of 47 across countries. Persuading younger people to pay remains a critical issue for industry, with just 8% of news subscribers in the UK being under 30 and just 17% in the United States. This quote from our focus groups sums up the attitude of many of those who grew up in an era with mostly free online sources.

In almost all of the listed countries, the majority of subscribers pay for one publication. But in the United States and Australia, around half (56% and 51% respectively) now pay for two or more – often a national and local paper combination. Second subscriptions in the United States include political and cultural magazines such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker , partisan digital outlets such as Blaze Media and Epoch Times, or passion-based titles such as the Athletic (sports). We also see growing levels of payment for platform-based news subscription products Apple+ and Twitter Blue. In Australia, second subscriptions include a relatively high proportion (9%) from US or UK publications such as the New York Times and The Times of London.

The influence of individual journalist brands may be overstated

Some news brands continue to have the reputation, scale, and technical capability to charge for their services, but in parallel the emergence of low-cost subscription and membership platforms, like Substack and Patreon, has enabled some individual journalists, podcasters, or other creators to also convince people to pay for their work. Substack says that there are now around a million paying subscribers to its premium content emails. 3

Despite this, our data show the number of these individual subscriptions is still relatively modest, certainly when compared with established news brands. Even in the United States, we find that just 7% of news subscribers in the United States pay for one or more journalist emails – around 1% of our overall sample. The proportions are even lower elsewhere, though we do see some emerging payment for individual email writers or podcasters in parts of Europe and Australia.

Over time, it is possible that these solo or small businesses, mostly operating in closely defined niches, could make up a far bigger part of the overall pie, expanding the market but also creating more competition for big news brands. If nothing else, they have already made the value of some individual journalists more explicit, pushing up wages of top talent.

These data also highlight the growing importance of formats like email and podcasts, both of which have become much more important in driving regular engagement for all publishers – from general news to specialist information and entertainment.

In the vast majority of markets in our survey, people say they still identify most with traditional news brands rather than individual journalists. This is especially true in Nordic countries but less true in the United States, Southern Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia. Perhaps the greater affinity with journalists in these countries offers a different opportunity to monetise content than brand-led subscription.

The impact of wider media subscriptions and prospects for subscription fatigue

With rising energy prices and inflation, and with many different types of online media (TV, music, books) now competing for a share of household budgets, there are genuine fears in the industry about whether recent growth in news subscriptions can continue. Against this backdrop, we explored the characteristics of different media subscriptions and asked respondents whether they were thinking of taking out more – or cutting back.

Taking the UK as an example of an advanced subscription market (chart below), we find almost two-thirds of our sample (65%) have taken out at least one subscription to a TV or film service like Netflix, 37% have a music subscription to Spotify or similar, 22% pay for a premium sports service, and 7% have a news subscription or other ongoing payment such as a donation. Because premium content is spread across TV platforms, many people feel the need to take out more than one subscription, with 19% taking out three or more. By contrast, one music or news service is normally enough, as rival services often offer broadly similar content. But as we noted earlier, in some countries we are seeing more differentiated news services and a consequent rise in the number of subscriptions per person. The other big difference is the age profile, with TV, music, and audio books skewing younger, while sport has an equal age split and news skews much older. People who subscribe to news are more likely to subscribe to other services and vice versa.

Thinking about the year ahead, most respondents say the number of media subscriptions they have (across TV, music, sports, books, and news) will stay the same, but there is an appetite to take out more in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. By contrast, the Portuguese are most likely to be looking to reduce their media subscriptions this year, while respondents in the UK and US are evenly split.

This overall picture is perhaps more optimistic than might be expected, with relatively low subscription churn, providing publishers with a more stable and secure income than the frequent ups and downs of the advertising market. On the other hand, the cost-of-living crisis has been building since our survey in January and will clearly be a significant factor for those on lower incomes.

It’s not entirely clear whether news will be treated in the same bucket as entertainment subscriptions that could be seen as more of a luxury. The news demographic tends to be older and richer, perhaps making the group less affected by rising prices. On the other hand, the sector is unlikely to be immune from these trends and a number of respondents said they would be cancelling subscriptions to news sites because they were too expensive. Others say they are planning to increase the number of subscriptions this year, with some seeing the current national and international instability as a good reason to invest more in high-quality information.

Investment in new products may encourage further take-up and much of the news industry remains confident about longer-term trends. But some publishers, notably CNN, recently reversed its much-hyped online paywall strategy (CNN+) amid doubts from its new owners about the viability of yet another stand-alone subscription. 4 Uncertainty remains about how far and fast the market can grow, especially in more troubled economic times.

Audiences reluctant to give up their data for news sites

Beyond concerns about subscription diets, media companies face another challenge in maintaining advertising revenues in the face of the imminent phasing out of third-party cookies. 5 Without these cross-platform trackers, media companies are looking to build up their own first-party data that can give them more leverage with advertising companies – and increase the rates they can charge. News companies now routinely ask for an email address before people can see content or access additional features such as commenting. In some countries (Portugal, Finland, and Switzerland), publishers have collaborated to provide a single login system that works across multiple online websites and apps. But how do audiences view these issues?

Across countries we find that only around a quarter (28%) have registered for one or more news websites in the last year. Those in Portugal (44%) are most likely to have given their details, but people in Germany (19%), the UK (16%), and Japan (14%) are least likely to have parted with their information for access. These differences may relate to the extent to which registration walls are being pushed by publishers in each country, but the relatively low levels in general reflect a continuing reluctance amongst consumers to give up email addresses or other personal details – especially if content is available elsewhere. Most news websites simply do not have a clear enough value proposition to persuade people to do so.

We also compared willingness to give data to news sites with other digital services such as online retailers and social media apps. Across our entire sample, only around a third (32%) say they trust news websites to use personal data responsibly – ahead of social media sites (25%), but at a similar level to trust in online retailers (33%). This does vary considerably by country, with 49% of Finns prepared to trust news organisations with data, but only 18% in the United States.

Proportion who trust each to use their data responsibly

Online retailers icon

Online retailers

Highest in Poland (44%)

Lowest in France (18%)

News websites icon

News websites

Highest in Finland (49%)

Lowest in USA (18%)

Social media icon

Social media

Less trust in social platforms to use data responsibly

REGISTER2_1/2/3 I trust most news websites/social media sites/online retailers to use my data responsibly. Base: Total sample: All markets = 44,924.

We find a clear link between general trust and people’s willingness to trust publishers with their data. Those with the highest levels of trust (48%) are more than twice as likely to give up their data than those with the lowest (19%). In this respect, building trust will be critical not just for those pursuing subscription models but for any publisher looking to engage and connect with audiences more deeply in the future.

Devices and access points to news

The smartphone continues to be the most important digital device for accessing news across countries, though our data suggest the first decline in weekly access since our survey began – reflecting falling news consumption across all devices after COVID-19 highs.

This year, we revived a question about how different groups access news first thing in the morning to give a sense of how news habits have changed since 2019. The next chart shows striking differences between countries. In Norway, Spain, Finland, and the UK, the smartphone is now the go-to route to news in the morning, with dependence on it growing substantially in the last three years. Radio remains an important part of morning routines in Ireland – even though it has been overtaken by the smartphone for the first time. Morning newspaper reading is still surprisingly popular in the Netherlands and Finland. Television remains a key influence in the US, France, and Italy and is the dominant medium in Japan.

Across countries, almost half of under 35s (47%) say they accessed news first using a smartphone, compared with just a quarter (28%) of those aged 35 and older and just 15% of those aged 65 and older. Japan’s older population may explain why it is bucking wider trends.

But what channels do people use when accessing news on a smartphone at the start of each day? Since 2019, we find that, across countries, social media (39%) have overtaken websites and apps (31%), followed by the smartphone home screen (12%) and aggregator apps like Apple News (9%).

Main gateways to digital news

We continue to monitor the main access points to online news, not just via a smartphone and not just first thing in the morning. Across all devices, our data show direct access to apps and websites becoming less important over time and social media becoming more important, partly due to their ubiquity and convenience. At an aggregate level, we have reached something of a tipping point this year, with social media preference (28%) surging ahead of direct access (23%). But these are cross-market averages and there are major differences between markets. Audiences in Nordic countries and the UK still have strong direct connections, while people in Japan and South Korea tend to access news via powerful aggregators and search engines – relying less on direct access. These differences, which we can perhaps treat as a proxy for the strength of news brands in a digital world, help explain why it may be easier to charge for online news in some countries and not others.

These changes are in large part driven by the emerging habits of a new generation of social natives as they come into adulthood, rather than by shifts in behaviour by older groups. In the next chart, which shows main access by age in the UK, we find that millennials within our 25–34 group (orange line) and those older than 35 (magenta line) have only slightly changed preferences over time, but the 18–24 group (turquoise line) has become significantly less likely to use a news website or app.

This is another illustration that this youngest generation, which has grown up with social media, is not just different but is more different than the one that came before – with a much weaker connection to traditional brands.

Is Facebook losing its sheen?

Each year since 2014, we have tracked the different social networks used for any purpose and for news across 12 countries. Facebook usage for any purpose (60%) is down five percentage points since its peak in 2017 and is now at a similar level to YouTube. Instagram (40%), TikTok (16%), and Telegram (11%) are the only networks to have grown in the last year.

Once again, most of these changes – such as the decline in Facebook use over the last few years – result from shifts in behaviour of the youngest cohort of social natives, not older respondents, who tend to have more entrenched habits. In the following chart from the UK we illustrate how the attention of this group has gradually shifted – from Facebook, to Instagram, and now to TikTok.

When it comes to news usage specifically, Facebook remains the most important network across our basket of 12 countries, but has dropped by 12 percentage points since 2016. Twitter has largely stagnated over the last decade in terms of its user base, though it remains hugely influential with journalists and politicians. Confusion over its future direction is likely to persist following the attempt to take over the company by Elon Musk 6 and the subsequent loss of senior executives. Meta-owned Instagram is now more widely used for news, while TikTok has overtaken Snapchat from a low base.

Outside Western countries – especially in Latin America and Africa – we find a much higher proportion of our sample using social media for news, but we also find different networks in play. In African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, WhatsApp (55%) and Telegram (18%) combined are more important for finding, sharing, and discussing news than Facebook (59%). Latin Americans tend to use a combination of all the main networks, while it is a mixed picture in Asia, with almost three-quarters (73%) using Facebook for news in the Philippines but just 5% in Japan, where Twitter (18%) and Line (16%) are more popular. YouTube (44%) is the main social network for news in South Korea, along with home-grown app KakaoTalk (24%) and KakaoStory (5%).

TikTok emerges as a significant new player in the news ecosystem

In our data, we find significant and rapidly growing usage of TikTok, especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well as across Eastern Europe. Usage is mostly still with under 25s, but is extending into all age brackets in countries with higher levels of usage, such as Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, and Peru. This quote from our Brazil qualitative research sums up how perceptions of content on TikTok have changed in the last year or so.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has increased the profile of the network globally. Ukrainians have been documenting their experience of the war, including leaving their homes as refugees, clocking up millions of views in the process (see picture). As we noted last year, many publishers have been increasing their investment, but some worry that a platform where entertainment content is so sought-after may not be the most effective place for news. BBC News originally decided to avoid TikTok, but has now set up channels in Russian and English after seeing misleading information being shared on the platform around the war in Ukraine.

TikTok on smartphone

of 18-24s use TikTok for any purpose

of 18-24s use TikTok for news

In contrast to traditional networks such as Facebook or Twitter, the content of the main TikTok feed is driven less by who you follow and more by an algorithm that takes into account what you like and what others are watching.

But others remain sceptical about the value of very short videos designed for popularity.

How much news do people see on each platform?

Facebook tells us that about 4% of the content of the average person’s feed comes from news outlets, though for some that proportion will be much higher. 7 Twitter does not provide equivalent data, but our survey shows that across markets it has a high proportion (56%) who use it for news weekly. By contrast, only around four in ten (39%) Instagram users access news via the platform weekly and just a third of TikTok users do the same (33%). But do people think they are seeing too much or too little news in these networks? 8

More than a fifth of UK respondents (21%) feel that they see too much news on Facebook and only 3% would like to see more. Facebook has been trying to reduce the amount of news on the platform partly for reputational reasons but also because, as previous research shows, people are mainly there to connect with friends and family rather than consume news. On the other hand, Twitter is seen as having more of a reputation for news so it is somewhat surprising to find one in ten (11%) saying they see too much. There is a clear link with news avoidance: those who often avoid the news are twice as likely to say they see too much news on both Facebook and Twitter when compared with the average user.

These data suggest the ambivalent relationship many people have with news on social media. It drives much of the conversation and engagement but can also interrupt other activities and create arguments. This dilemma may be one of the factors behind Facebook’s recent decision to create a separate tab in five countries (Facebook News) with content from a selection of partner publishers, in parallel with an ongoing string of decisions in recent years to reduce the amount of news in the main ‘Feed’ (recently renamed from ‘News Feed’). Platforms like Twitter might also need to think about why even some people who love the news want to see less of it, given the network’s reputation for often abusive debate. TikTok and Instagram will also be aware, as they grow, of the careful balance they need to strike if they are not to put people off.

Misinformation

In this year’s survey we find a link between online misinformation fears and the widespread use of social media. Across markets, just over half (54%) say they worry about identifying the difference between what is real and fake on the internet when it comes to news, but people who say they mainly use social media as a source of news are more worried (61%) than people who don’t use it at all (48%). Additionally, regions with the highest levels of concern – Africa and Latin America – correspond closely with high levels of social media news use. This is not to say that social media use causes misinformation, but that usage may generate awareness of and potential exposure to false information, including giving voice to extreme perspectives that previously would not have been widely heard.

When looking at the types of misinformation that people claim to see, we find that dubious health claims around COVID-19, including from anti-vaccination groups, are, as in 2021, still most widespread across most regions, ahead of politics. Notable exceptions are in Kenya – where political misinformation is more widely seen – as well as Colombia and the Philippines, both countries where elections were held this year.

Levels of perceived misinformation around climate change and the environment are around three times higher in the United States (34%) than they are in Taiwan (10%) or Denmark (13%). Despite pledges to crack down, social media posts and videos denying climate change or disputing its causes remain widespread on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, according to recent research. 9

In this year’s report we find increased polarisation around climate change in a number of countries, including the United States, and identify the most important sources for climate change news with different groups.

Text is still king but what role for online video?

Since the emergence of the internet, consumption on news websites (and apps) has primarily been about reading text articles. But that has begun to change with the growing supply of video news formats on social media.

Against this background, it is surprising to find that all age groups, on average, say they still prefer to read news online rather than watch it – and we have seen little change in underlying preferences since we last asked the question in 2019. Younger audiences, however, are significantly more likely to say they watch the news, perhaps because they are more exposed to networks like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

We do find significant market-level differences in preferences around reading or watching, partly conditioned by consumption patterns offline. We find markets with historic patterns of high newspaper consumption such as Finland and Japan near the top of the list in terms of reading preference, with low-newspaper-circulation countries like Thailand and Brazil near the bottom. But other factors are also likely to be at play. Higher use of social media in general in Latin America (Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Chile) as well as in parts of Asia-Pacific (Philippines and Taiwan) may be encouraging more video news use in these markets.

These preferences are closely linked to video consumption through platforms such as YouTube, the most widely used video-based platform in our survey. We see extremely high levels of consumption in the Philippines and India, for example. Meanwhile, in Thailand, the combination of low data charges, and greater freedom to speak openly online, has led to a spate of independent TV-style shows that are widely consumed on mobile phones. In other countries such as the UK and Denmark, by contrast, there is comparatively little mainstream news consumed on YouTube, though some alternative or partisan channels and conspiracy theorists do have a presence.

Overall, respondents say they prefer reading online because it is quicker (50%) or gives them more control (34%). Around a third (35%) say they are put off by pre-roll ads that sometimes appear ahead of videos. Almost a fifth (17%) say videos don’t add to anything that would otherwise be in a text story, 13% struggle with technical issues when trying to watch videos, and 8% worry about cost or data charges – much higher in African countries such as Kenya (35%) and Nigeria (35%).

Main reasons why people read rather than watch online news

Speed icon

say it is a quicker way to access information

2. Poor video experience

Video experience icon

say pre-roll adverts tend to put me off (Finland 55%, Germany 43%)

Control icon

say reading gives more control than playing videos

OptQ11ai. You say you prefer to read news in text rather than watch online video … What are the main reasons for this? Base: All who prefer to read news. All markets = 59, 258.

By contrast, people who prefer to watch news online say that this is because they find it an easier (42%) and more engaging (41%) way to access the news. Some like to see the people making or reporting the news (20%), as it brings stories to life, while others say video tells a more complete story (29%), making it easier to follow. Finally, many prefer video because they are using social media anyway (24%) and it appears, conveniently, in their feeds.

Main reasons why people watch rather than read online news

Easy icon

say it is a quicker way to consume news

2. Engaging

Engaging icon

say moving pictures are more engaging than text

3. Convenient

Convenient icon

say they come across videos often (e.g. via social media) – especially younger groups

OptQ11bi. You say you prefer to watch news video rather than read it in text … What are the main reasons for this? Base: All who prefer to watch news. All markets = 11,449.

Podcast usage growing again after COVID-19 pause

Podcasts have been another format that publishers have invested in heavily over the last few years (Newman and Gallo 2019 and 2020). Podcasts tend to reach younger audiences via their smartphones, and many subscription publishers are looking to use habit-building products, such as The Daily from the New York Times , to attract younger customers. Podcast growth has resumed this year in more than half of our markets after COVID-19 had disrupted the commute to work, negatively affecting news consumption. Looking at an average of 20 countries where we are confident that the term ‘podcast’ is well understood, we find 34% (+3) consumed one or more podcasts in the last month, with 12% accessing a news podcast. Ireland, a country with a strong audio tradition, heads our list, along with Sweden, the home of Spotify.

Platform mix is changing

Spotify, Amazon, and Google have been investing in podcasts over the last few years as they seek to capitalise on surging demand and break Apple’s historic audio dominance. The battle for talent has intensified, as evidenced by Spotify’s willingness to pay around $200m for exclusive rights to the Joe Rogan podcast, and to stand by him after rows over controversial guests and accusations of spreading of false information. 10 In our qualitative research in both the UK and US, it was striking how many younger people regularly listen to The Joe Rogan Experience, even as they worry about some of the content.

Spotify has continued to gain ground this year, overtaking BBC Sounds in the UK as the main podcast platform. It is also leading in Germany, but not in Spain, where YouTube is ahead and where the audio platform iVoox – which focuses on Spanish and Latin American markets – has a substantial share. In our qualitative research, we find some clues as to why these long news shows with diverse perspectives on Spotify and YouTube seem to appeal to young multitaskers.

YouTube is increasing its publisher focus on podcasting this year – partly to bring more reputable content onto the platform – and has revealed plans for a discovery hub and better monetisation and analytics. 11

Big tech platforms are investing in content and bringing programming to a wider and more mainstream audience but this is also raising familiar questions for publishers about monetisation, distribution, and access to data. The New York Times is launching its own app for audio this year in a bid to build more direct traffic, while Schibsted in Norway and Prisa Media in Spain, the publishers of El País , have also been investing in podcast platforms to create more critical mass and ultimately more control.

Meanwhile, the wider shift to audio continues to be driven by new voice interfaces and devices such as smart speakers and in-car entertainment systems. Amazon and Google are the key market makers in this respect, though South Korea has its own set of device manufacturers. Smart speakers now reach almost a quarter of the UK adult population (24%), 17% in Canada and Korea, 15% in Germany, and 13% in the US. But news use remains disappointing: only a minority use these devices for any kind of news (6% in the UK and 4% in the US).

While some individual news media have clearly been very successful at building online reach or convincing people to subscribe, and developed new offers across podcast, video, and newsletters, this year’s data show many publishers are still struggling to come to terms with structural changes that have been ravaging the industry for more than a decade. These challenges are compounded by the fraying connection that journalism and news media have with much of the public in many countries. More people are disconnected, interest in news is down, selective news avoidance up, and trust far from a given. The Ukraine crisis, and before it the COVID-19 pandemic, have reminded people of the value of accurate and fair reporting that gets as close to the truth as possible, but we also find evidence that the overwhelming and depressing nature of the news, feelings of powerlessness, and toxic online debates are turning many people away – temporarily or permanently. Paywalls and registration gates may not be helping either, putting further barriers in the way of the content that audiences want to consume, even as they are creating more sustainable businesses for some.

Although many publishers have had a relatively good year with increased revenue, future growth is likely to be challenged by the combined impact of inflation and rising energy prices, squeezing household budgets currently devoted to news media, but also potentially hitting advertising revenues, too. In this context, publishers will need to be even more focused on meeting the needs of specific audiences and demonstrating value to users. Internet users have access to an unprecedented amount of content, products, and services competing for their attention and hard-earned money, and news needs to stand out, connect, and create value, if it is to convince them to pay.

They will also need to keep an eye on the needs of the next generation, who this report has shown are exhibiting very different behaviours and attitudes than the one that went before. These social natives , who have come into adulthood in the last five or ten years, are much less likely to visit a traditional news website or to pay for online news – and they are often wary of giving up their data. Deeply networked, they are increasingly accessing news in video or audio on networks like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or Spotify.

The world feels increasingly uncertain, with war in Europe and a major refugee crisis adding to the impact of the pandemic, not to mention the looming threat of climate change. The need for reliable information, careful context, and considered debate has rarely been greater, but so too has the desire for stories that inspire and give hope of a better tomorrow. The global shocks of the last few years have galvanised publishers to refocus on digital, embracing new business models, storytelling, and distribution. But there will be no single route to success in this often confusing and increasingly complex media environment.

1 During the first week of the conflict, the BBC estimated 280 million people used its news output in the UK and around the world. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/bbc-ukraine-tim-davie-nadine-dorries-bbc-news-b2047209.html ↩

2 https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2022/feb/17/bbcs-sarah-smith-relieved-to-escape-scottish-bile-and-hatred ↩

3 https://www.forbes.com/sites/marisadellatto/2021/11/15/substack-announces-one-million-paid-subscribers/ ↩

4 https://edition.cnn.com/2022/04/21/media/cnn-shutting-down/index.html ↩

5 In January 2022 Google announced it will stop the use of third-party cookies in its popular Chrome web browser by the end of 2023, joining a growing list of browsers and platforms that are stopping support for this tracking technology. ↩

6 https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/26/elon-musks-twitter-takeover-sets-up-a-potential-clash-with-europe.html ↩

7 https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/19/facebooks-news-feed-survey-users-to-find-high-quality-news.html ↩

8 We did ask respondents directly to estimate how much news they saw in each of their social media feeds, partly to prime them for this subsequent question about too much/too little. We have preferred to use data on the proportion who say they use each network for any purpose/for news as they show similar trends and are data we collect every year. ↩

9 https://eu.usatoday.com/story/tech/2022/01/21/climate-change-misinformation-facebook-youtube-twitter/6594691001/ ↩

10 ‘Joe Rogan: Four Claims from his Spotify Podcast Fact-Checked’, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/60199614 ↩

11 https://podnews.net/update/youtube-podcasting-plans ↩

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The Global Media Intelligence Report 2021

Executive Summary

The Global Media Intelligence Report is a concise, detailed compilation of data and insights about internet users’ traditional and digital media usage in 43 key markets worldwide. With very few exceptions, this 2021 edition covers the same range of metrics we featured in 2020, and the consistency of GWI’s methodology enables us to offer precise year-over-year (YoY) comparisons.

For the second year in a row, the pandemic was a major influence on media consumption and device ownership. Of course, many internet users had already experienced the types of restrictions imposed during the first phase of the health crisis in 2020, so we might have expected little change in their media behavior in 2021. That was true in some cases—but in others, a second year of the pandemic seems to have prompted significant shifts. Also, the pandemic affected several countries more intensely, or differently, this year than last.

That said, the data does reveal several overarching patterns.

These are the key trends shaping the media landscape this year:

Ownership of pcs and tablets continued to fall in most countries..

The rise of home working and home schooling during 2020 bolstered penetration of larger-screen devices. But the longer-term trend of declining ownership is beginning to reassert itself.

  • Penetration of desktops, laptops, and tablets declined. Between H1 2020 and H1 2021, penetration of desktops, laptops, and tablets fell in virtually every market. Admittedly, several countries in Asia-Pacific—including China, Japan, and Thailand—saw modest gains for both devices. PC ownership also rose in India, UAE, and Vietnam. These are all countries where PCs and tablets entered the mainstream after mobile phones, and remain aspirational, particularly in middle- and higher-income households.
  • Smartphone penetration remains stable. Rates of smartphone ownership were much the same as in 2020 and almost uniformly high. That’s no surprise since smartphones were already the dominant digital device for the vast majority of internet users worldwide.

Smart TVs are gaining ground as high-quality in-home viewing becomes a must-have.

  • In all but a handful of countries, smart TV ownership rose by several percentage points YoY. In many cases, that lifted penetration above 50% for the first time.
  • Japan was the most striking outlier; just 9.0% of internet users there owned a smart TV this year. But that share had grown from 7.5% in 2020—a significant proportional increase.

Takeup of other smart products has accelerated.

  • In 2020, a small minority of internet users polled owned a smartwatch, but momentum was building especially among early adopters, including males and affluent respondents. In 2021, that trend continued, with penetration climbing significantly in most countries. The smartwatch’s less expensive cousin, the smart wristband, also benefited from greater interest in fitness and wellness during the pandemic.
  • In addition, more internet users owned smart home devices, such as household security systems and energy consumption monitors. Penetration typically languished below 15% but was markedly greater in a few cases. In the UK, for example, one in four internet users owned at least one smart home product in H1 2021. In the US, that share was 20.5%.

In many countries, digital video has overtaken broadcast TV.

  • As in prior years, TV still reaches more consumers worldwide than any other content-based medium. Yet the share of internet users watching digital video now surpasses the share watching live TV in many parts of the world. (It’s worth noting that GWI included YouTube in its list of tracked video services for the first time this year, and the popularity of that platform will have boosted figures for digital video viewing in virtually all nations surveyed.)
  • More interesting, in some respects, are the substantial increases in penetration of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) worldwide. Again, this is largely predictable, given that lockdowns fueled digital video viewing across the board. SVOD usage was already rising in most countries in 2020 but enjoyed another big boost in 2021—as if many internet users who resisted the appeal of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other providers last year finally gave in to temptation as the pandemic continued.
  • In almost half of the countries surveyed this year, more than 75% of internet users had watched SVOD in the prior month. That group included Argentina, China, India, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, as well as the UK and the US. By contrast, only 29.2% of internet users in Russia had recently watched video via a subscription service.

The digital audio market is evolving, but radio hasn’t gone away.

  • The reach of broadcast radio shrank in many markets this year, but time spent with radio had hardly changed since 2020 or shifted by just a few minutes per day.
  • Fewer internet users listened to online radio, audiobooks, and other digital audio content, as well. This decline may be partly due to GWI removing Google Play Music from the list of audio services tracked because the service was discontinued. Yet music streaming occupied more time this year in almost every country. In addition, internet users in most nations devoted at least 30 minutes each day to podcasts—a new metric in the 2021 survey.

Notwithstanding these global trends, many details vary across the 42 countries monitored by GWI, especially as pandemic-related factors have added another layer of complexity to individual markets. Some examples:

Different regions prioritize different devices—but there are national exceptions.

  • As in prior years, time spent with PCs and tablets exceeded time spent with mobile devices in most European markets and the US.
  • Conversely, mobile activities dominated daily media time across much of Asia-Pacific, and in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and UAE. Yet several Asia-Pacific countries aligned with Europe in this respect; in Australia, Japan, and South Korea, for example, larger screens still claimed more time each day.

Voice assistants fulfil multiple functions, but these vary from country to country.

  • GWI first asked in 2019 about respondents’ use of voice-activated phone apps like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, and smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. In 2021, researchers probed further, asking whether respondents had used a voice assistant in the prior week (not the prior month, as in previous surveys) to find information or to carry out an action, such as playing a song. In most countries, searching for information was more common. But in several cases—including Brazil, Greece, Malaysia, the Philippines, and South Korea—more internet users had used voice tools to complete an action. Naturally, some respondents did both.

Social media is a massive draw, but some users spend longer than others.

  • In most Latin American and many Asia-Pacific countries, internet users spent more than 3 hours each day on social networking and messaging. That was also true in Egypt, South Africa, and Turkey.
  • Across most of Europe, though, social media occupied fewer than 2 hours per day.

This is a small sample of the granular information the report provides. The wealth of detail about the media behavior of digital citizens in 43 key markets worldwide should be invaluable to advertisers and marketers as they develop and execute strategies and campaigns in the year to come.

Welcome to eMarketer’s Global Media Intelligence Report 2021.

About this report.

The 11th edition of the Global Media Intelligence Report is a continued partnership with Publicis Media-Starcom and collaboration with GWI, formerly GlobalWebIndex—a primary research provider to Publicis Media-Starcom and a valued partner of eMarketer. This close collaboration ensures consistent representation of topics, demographic groups, and time frames from the 2020 edition.

Karin von Abrams

Contributors, access all charts and data.

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  • Published: 28 September 2021

News media coverage of COVID-19 public health and policy information

  • Katharine J. Mach 1 , 2 ,
  • Raúl Salas Reyes   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1683-8516 3 ,
  • Brian Pentz   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-2713-6699 3 ,
  • Jennifer Taylor   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8301-3434 4 ,
  • Clarissa A. Costa 3 ,
  • Sandip G. Cruz 3 ,
  • Kerronia E. Thomas 3 ,
  • James C. Arnott   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3989-6724 5 ,
  • Rosalind Donald 1 ,
  • Kripa Jagannathan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4584-8358 6 , 7 ,
  • Christine J. Kirchhoff   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-2686-6764 8 ,
  • Laura C. Rosella   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-4867-869X 9 &
  • Nicole Klenk   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-8224-6992 3  

Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume  8 , Article number:  220 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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  • Cultural and media studies
  • Science, technology and society

During a pandemic, news media play a crucial role in communicating public health and policy information. Traditional newspaper coverage is important amidst increasing disinformation, yet uncertainties make covering health risks and efforts to limit transmission difficult. This study assesses print and online newspaper coverage of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 for March 2020, when the global pandemic was declared, through August 2020 in three countries: Canada (with the lowest per-capita case and death rates during the study timeframe), the United Kingdom (with a pronounced early spike), and the United States (with persistently high rates). Tools previously validated for pandemic-related news records allow measurement of multiple indicators of scientific quality (i.e., reporting that reflects the state of scientific knowledge) and of sensationalism (i.e., strategies rendering news as more extraordinary than it really is). COVID-19 reporting had moderate scientific quality and low sensationalism across 1331 sampled articles in twelve newspapers spanning the political spectrums of the three countries. Newspapers oriented towards the populist-right had the lowest scientific quality in reporting, combined with very low sensationalism in some cases. Against a backdrop of world-leading disease rates, U.S. newspapers on the political left had more exposing coverage, e.g., focused on policy failures or misinformation, and more warning coverage, e.g., focused on the risks of the disease, compared to U.S. newspapers on the political right. Despite the generally assumed benefits of low sensationalism, pandemic-related coverage with low scientific quality that also failed to alert readers to public-health risks, misinformation, or policy failures may have exacerbated the public-health effects of the disease. Such complexities will likely remain central for both pandemic news media reporting and public-health strategies reliant upon it.

Introduction

News media reporting is understood to play a central role during national security and health emergencies (Laing, 2011 ; Klemm et al., 2016 ; Pieri, 2019 ). News coverage communicates risks to readers and shapes public perceptions through the amount, content, and tone of reporting. It simultaneously frames ongoing public debates about policy responses, including conflicting priorities relevant to the timing or stringency of implemented policies (Laing, 2011 ; Pieri, 2019 ). Pandemic policy-making requires rapid, iterative responses under conditions of knowledge deficit, as well as the coordination of multi-level public-health agencies and sectors (e.g., hospitals, schools, and workplaces) (Laing, 2011 ; Rosella et al., 2013 ). In these complex circumstances, news media serve as a primary source of health information and uncertainties and connect health professionals, policymakers, and the public in critical ways (Laing, 2011 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). The quality and balance of scientific coverage, such as through reporting that reflects the state of scientific knowledge and is not overstated, affect trust in science and accountability for decision-making (Laing, 2011 ; Klemm et al., 2016 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ).

Inadequate scientific quality in news coverage of past pandemics has posed risks and limited capacities to disseminate public-health guidance and coordinate responses (Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). Reporting on the state of scientific knowledge during a novel, evolving pandemic is challenging. Low-quality scientific reporting of pandemics may overstate or understate disease risks or the efficacy of protective measures for different individuals or fail to communicate the nature of the evidence. Such reporting may constrain the feasibility or effectiveness of options for policymakers directing government action, miss opportunities to inform individuals making health decisions, and increase the exposure of health professionals to disease. It can both exacerbate disease outcomes and generate unnecessary fear, in combination with other factors shaping perceptions among the public (Laing, 2011 ; Klemm et al., 2016 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). For example, news media reporting may have overly emphasized the threat of the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza (H1N1) pandemic with insufficient indication of available protective measures, and in pairing trustworthy information from credible scientists with uninformed opinions, it may have promoted a “false balance” (Laing, 2011 ; Klemm et al., 2016 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). Further, news coverage rapidly waned after the initial pandemic declaration even though public-health risks persisted (Klemm et al., 2016 ; Reintjes et al., 2016 ). Similar issues with media reporting occurred during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak and the 2014 Ebola outbreak (Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ; Pieri, 2019 ).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, media representations of complex, rapidly evolving epidemiological science shape public understandings of the risks, measures to limit disease spread, and associated political and policy discourses. Traditional newspaper media coverage may have particular importance given simultaneous misinformation and disinformation, social fragmentation, political polarization, and failures of policy coordination, and national newspapers influence how other outlets cover the same subject across media platforms (Ball and Maxmen, 2020 ; Holtz et al., 2020 ; Thorp, 2020 ; Grossman et al., 2020 ). The COVID-19 pandemic creates an opportunity to assess the strengths and limitations of the media’s pandemic coverage and provide insights for future news media coverage. Such assessment also informs the communication strategies of public-health institutions and policymakers towards clear public-health guidance and coordinated responses across health systems (Laing, 2011 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ; Pieri, 2019 ).

Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, our countries of focus, differ in how they govern public health, including pandemic responses. In its constitutionally determined role, the Canadian federal government sets healthcare standards and administers funding to support the healthcare system spanning provinces and territories (Government of Canada, 2016 ). Pandemic health-related policies are set and implemented predominantly by provinces with federal guidance from Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (Adeel et al., 2020 ). The U.K. central government funds healthcare throughout the United Kingdom yet only sets policies for England. Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales each govern their own National Health Service systems. By contrast, the healthcare system in the United States is a complex mixture of public and private health insurance programs. The U.S. federal government generally adopts a leading role during national crises, although during the COVID-19 pandemic states and municipalities have led adoption and implementation of most policy measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Adeel et al., 2020 ). Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 Global Health Security Index ranked the United States first, United Kingdom second, and Canada fifth among 195 countries for preparedness to manage a serious disease outbreak (Cameron et al., 2019 ).

In this paper, we systematically quantify the amount, scientific quality, and sensationalism of newspaper media coverage of COVID-19 in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Newspapers studied span the political spectrum of each case-study country (Table 1 ) (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2010 ; Puglisi and Snyder, 2015 ; Anderson and Coletto, 2017 ; Mitchell et al., 2018 ; Hönnige et al., 2020 ; Jurkowitz et al., 2020 ; Austen, 2020 ). Our analysis begins two weeks prior to COVID-19’s official recognition as a pandemic and follows its development over the subsequent five months (i.e., from 1 March 2020 to 15 August 2020). Given the volume of COVID-19 news media articles published over the timeframe of this study, we created a manageable corpus for analysis by randomly sampling one day of media coverage per week for six consecutive 4-week periods; we then randomly selected five eligible articles from each news outlet on each sampled day for the evaluation of scientific quality and sensationalism. In our evaluation, scientific quality refers to the alignment between reporting and the state of scientific evidence and its uncertainties, and sensationalism is a discursive strategy rendering news as more extraordinary, interesting, or relevant than it really is (Oxman et al., 1993 ; Molek-Kozakowska, 2013 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). We apply previously validated survey tools developed to measure scientific quality and sensationalism of pandemic-related health news records in combination with broader methods from policy analyses of pandemic responses (SI Coding Tool) (Oxman et al., 1993 ; Rosella et al., 2013 ; Molek-Kozakowska, 2013 ; Reintjes et al., 2016 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). We analyze (1) the COVID-19 public-health outcomes and policies in each country and (2) the amount, scientific quality, sensationalism, and topics of COVID-19 news media coverage across the political spectrum of each country.

Public health contextualization of news media analyses

To contextualize our news media analyses, we analyzed and visualized existing data sets on the number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and tests in each country (e.g., Roser et al., 2020 ; CBC News, 2020 ; Public Health England and NHSX, 2020 ; CDC, 2020 ). We also recorded the key public-health declarations, policies, and guidance during the study time period (e.g., drawing from WHO, 2020a , 2020b ; see also SI Table S1 ). We tracked these decisions at international scales through to subnational scales in each country studied. Media analyses outlined below thereby were considered with respect to the reported number of cases and confirmed deaths and policy actions taken (Reintjes et al., 2016 ).

News media search strategy and inclusion criteria

Print and online news media records were retrieved from the Factiva database for news outlets across the political spectrum of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States (see Table 1 ) (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2010 ; Puglisi and Snyder, 2015 ; Anderson and Coletto, 2017 ; Mitchell et al., 2018 ; Hönnige et al., 2020 ; Jurkowitz et al., 2020 ; Austen, 2020 ). Selected news media outlets have primary news products in print and online media, rather than television broadcasting or social media, and full article entries available in Factiva. Search terms included “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” “epidemic,” “outbreak,” “pandemic,” or “SARS-CoV-2.” Individual English-language news articles were retrieved for sampled dates between 1 March 2020 and 15 August 2020. This period captures news media coverage prior to the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic and over the subsequent five months.

Individual news records were screened to identify original news reporting (i.e., news reporting and news analysis articles) relevant to our study objectives. First, eligible articles must have a direct focus on the public-health implications of COVID-19 or on attempts to control its spread—in some or all of an article’s text. By excluding articles without this focus, we ensured all articles included in the study could contain scientific information on the public health effects or spread of COVID-19 and associated policies. Second, eligible articles must be focused on the newspaper’s country of publication (e.g., an article reporting on COVID-19 transmission or mitigation efforts in only New Zealand or China, without discussion of implications for the newspaper’s country of publication, would be excluded). We included this eligibility criterion to analyze science–policy interfaces and science–society interactions most proximate to the news outlets, although we acknowledge that articles about other countries may influence perceptions of readers even without direct discussion of implications for them. Third, eligible articles must be original news reporting or analysis, meaning we excluded opinion pieces, editorials, interview transcripts, microblogs, front-page snippets, news roundups, obituaries, advertisements, corrections memos, and letters to the editor; these excluded article types would have required distinct question framings beyond the scope of our codebook. This third criterion, therefore, ensured that coded responses could be compared coherently across articles for the different measures of scientific quality and sensationalism.

Sampling of news media articles

As the evaluation of scientific quality and sensationalism through manual coding is time intensive, and a very large number of COVID-19 news media articles were published during the timeframe of our study, we used a random sample of news media articles for analysis, prioritizing sampling during each week over the course of the study timeframe. The sample design enabled a manageable analysis of newspaper media coverage and potential changes over the timeframe of the study. First, the sample of news media articles was constructed by sampling one day of media coverage per week in consecutive four-week periods. These four days of the week were randomly sampled without replacement (Monday through Saturday only, not including Sunday in the sampling), given cyclic variation in news media coverage (Lacy et al., 2001 ; Riffe et al., 2016 ). The study timeframe was divided into six four-week periods of equal duration from 1 March to 15 August 2020.

Second, for each randomly sampled day, all available news records were retrieved from Factiva for the 12 news outlets (Table 1 ). Randomly selected articles were screened for eligibility, with the goal of identifying 5 eligible articles for each news outlet on each sampled day. In some cases, fewer than 5 eligible articles were published by a given outlet on a sampled day. In these cases, the full set of eligible articles was included in the study.

Analysis of scientific quality and sensationalism of news articles

The coding tool for measuring scientific quality and sensationalism of news article records was adapted from the final tool of Hoffman and Justicz, designed for evaluating pandemic-related health news records (Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). Scientific quality, as defined in that study, is “a measure of an article’s reliability and credibility on a given topic” (Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ). Importantly, scientific quality is linked to the state of scientific understanding and its uncertainties at specific moments in time rather than being an absolute or objective characteristic. The codebook we applied for measuring scientific quality is therefore designed to be flexible and responsive to the inevitable shifts in scientific understanding that occur through time, most especially during a novel disease outbreak and evolving pandemic. Sensationalism, as defined in that study, is “a way of presenting articles to make them seem more interesting or extraordinary than they actually are” (Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ).

Our coding tool (SI Coding Tool) included six questions for scientific quality (each evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5—5 corresponding to highest quality) and six questions for sensationalism (each evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5—5 corresponding to highest sensationalism). The question categories (SI Coding Tool) for assessing scientific quality were as follows: applicability, opinion versus facts, validity, precision, context, and global assessment (i.e., an overall assessment of the article’s scientific quality based on the five preceding specific measures). For sensationalism, the question categories (SI Coding Tool) included exposing, speculating, generalizing, warning, extolling, and global assessment (i.e., an overall assessment of the degree of sensationalism in the article based on the five preceding specific measures) (Oxman et al., 1993 ; Molek-Kozakowska, 2013 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ).

In addition, metadata collected for each article included the coder’s identity, the article title, the article’s sample date, the news outlet (including if the article was originally written by another outlet such as the Associated Press), the societal sector (up to 2 selected per article), and public-health measures discussed (SI Coding Tool).

Coder assignments, training, reliability assessment, and analysis

For each sampled day, two independent coders assessed all relevant news media records based on the scientific quality and sensationalism questions and article-attribute metadata. Coders recorded scores for each article through a Google-form version of the codebook (SI Coding Tool).

To ensure consistent application of the coding tool, substantial training and calibration occurred over a six-week period. First, the three coders in coordination with the project leadership team read national and international public-health agency descriptions of the coronavirus disease and associated public-health policies and measures. Second, the coders completed multiple rounds of individual coding of example news articles, followed by group discussions of application of the codebook. The group discussions considered difficult judgments and common versus unusual examples. The goal was to ensure consistent application of the coding tool across question categories and the range of article examples that arose. During the training and calibration phases of coding, we updated the codebook to include examples specific to news records on COVID-19 (SI Coding Tool), and we tracked illustrative examples (news articles and specific quotes) across the scale (1–3–5) for the scientific quality and sensationalism question categories. This process led to development of example answers particularly representative of low versus high scientific quality and low versus high sensationalism under each category of response. Additionally, we developed “decision rules” for the more unusual or challenging categories of examples to ensure consistency across coders, especially where disagreements arose in individually assigned responses.

Interrater reliability was assessed during the training and calibration stage and throughout the duration of the study. Where coders assigned scores for a given question that were 3 or 4 units apart on the 1–5 scale, a reconciliation discussion occurred; the small fraction of question responses in this category following the training stage enabled the coders and project team to continue developing and ensuring shared understanding of coding approaches for unusual or challenging applications. Weighted Cohen’s Kappa, with quadratic weighting, was applied given the high-inference codebook and ordinal data collected via a Likert scale, as previously done for related measures (Cohen, 1960 ; Fleiss and Cohen, 1973 ; Oxman et al., 1993 ; Antoine et al., 2014 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ; Tran et al., 2020 ). Coded data were analyzed with Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance and post-hoc multi-comparison pairwise tests (kruskal.test and kruskalmc in pgirmess package in R) (Giraudoux et al., 2018 ; R Core Team, 2020 ).

Public health and policy contexts

From March through August 2020, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States differed substantially in their public-health responses to COVID-19 and in health outcomes from the novel coronavirus disease (Fig. 1 ). Beginning in early March, all three countries implemented a combination of policy measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including emergency laws, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, school and business closures, border and travel restrictions, social distancing measures, and quarantines upon entry (SI Table S1 ). These restrictions were followed by gradual phases of reopening measures allowing restricted social and economic activities to occur. Across the three countries, the role of national versus subnational governments differed with respect to authority and actions on public-health guidance and care, resulting in differing timing and levels of coordination for both restrictions and reopening measures (SI Fig. S1 ). From March to August 2020, the United Kingdom experienced the highest death rate from COVID-19 (maximum 7-day average of 13.9 deaths per million people; Fig. 1 ), whereas the United States had the highest case rate of the three countries (maximum 7-day average of 203.5 cases per million), as well as the greatest cumulative number of cases and deaths globally (SI Figs. S2 - S3 ). Of the three countries, Canada had the most effective public-health outcomes as measured by per capita COVID-19 case or death rates (Fig. 1 ).

figure 1

COVID-19 cases, deaths, and national-level policies are indicated for ( A ) Canada, ( B ) the United Kingdom, and ( C ) the United States. 7-day rolling averages of cases (left vertical axis, solid black line) and deaths (right vertical axis, dotted black line) per one million people are shown for the timeframe of this media study, 1 March through 15 August 2020 (Roser et al., 2020 ). The timeline for each country specifies national-level public-health policies and guidance, especially emergency declarations, school and non-essential business closures, travel and border restrictions, quarantines and social distancing, mask usage, and reopening phases. Implementation of enforceable policies (solid) and non-enforced guidance (dotted) is specified with vertical red lines, and corresponding reopening and relaxation of policies and guidance are specified with vertical blue lines. Detailed descriptions of national-level policies within each panel are provided in SI Table S1 .

The amount of pandemic media coverage

The studied news outlets differed in the amount of news media coverage related to COVID-19 from 1 March through 15 August 2020 (Fig. 2 ). The amount of coverage increased notably in March as case rates climbed in each country, subsequently decreasing gradually in May and June while case rates also declined. Across the 24 randomly sampled days, the 12 studied news outlets published 18,430 articles related to COVID-19. Of these, an estimated 4321 articles (23.4%) were eligible for inclusion in this study—that is, as news reporting or analysis relevant to the country of publication and containing a direct focus on COVID-19 public health or policy information (SI Figs. S4 - S5 ). Articles with a direct focus on COVID-19 public health or policy information (to a small or large extent) could be coded for the scientific quality of the reporting of this information and its sensationalism.

figure 2

For each randomly sampled day ( A ) and each news outlet ( B ), the total number of individual news records is shown, based on Factiva database searches for articles related to COVID-19 public health and policy information (Methods). News articles are partitioned across the following categories: articles eligible for inclusion in our study (eligible), articles not focusing on the newspaper’s country of publication (location out of scope), articles that are not original news reporting or analysis (opinion/editorial/letters), and articles that include COVID-19-relevant search terms, but do not include any direct focus on COVID-19 public health or policy information (no direct focus). Estimated totals for these categories are calculated using (i) the total number of Factiva returns and (ii) the rates at which articles were assigned to these categories during the eligibility screening process for each outlet and randomly sampled day (SI Fig. S4 ). On the stacked bars, percentages of articles falling into each category are specified for each day ( A ) and news outlet ( B ).

Content analysis of pandemic media coverage

We collected a manageable, well-defined random sample of 1331 news media articles satisfying our eligibility criteria (SI Fig. S4 ) for coding of scientific quality and sensationalism (SI Coding Tool and Dataset S1 ). Six questions each for scientific quality and for sensationalism were evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 corresponding to highest scientific quality or sensationalism, 1 corresponding to lowest scientific quality or sensationalism). Question categories included for scientific quality: applicability, opinion versus facts, validity, precision, context, and global assessment (i.e., an overall assessment of the article’s scientific quality); and for sensationalism: exposing, speculating, generalizing, warning, extolling, and global assessment (i.e., an overall assessment of the degree of sensationalism in the article) (SI Coding Tool). For this content analysis, interrater reliability was moderate to substantial for the summative “global” assessment of scientific quality and sensationalism (SI Table S2 ). Reliability was similarly high for specific scientific quality and sensationalism measures, with the exception of questions for which coded scores displayed restriction of range or unbalanced distributions (e.g., “generalizing” scores of mostly 1 and 2, rather than ranging from 1 through 5 with balance around 3; SI Coding Tool and Dataset S1 ) (Hallgren, 2012 ; Tran et al., 2020 ).

The scientific quality of pandemic media coverage

The scientific quality of news media articles differed among news outlets across the political spectrums of the respective countries (Fig. 3 ). Within each country, the overall scientific quality of news reporting and analysis was lowest on the populist-right of the political spectrum (mean summative “global” scientific quality of 2.58, n = 106 articles, for Toronto Sun ; 2.67, n = 115, for Daily Mail ; and 2.28, n = 118, for New York Post ; p  ≤ 0.001 for Kruskal–Wallis, p  ≤ 0.05 for within-country pairwise comparisons except Daily Mail versus Times of London and Telegraph , SI Table S3 ). For these outlets, lower scientific quality was especially evident for validity, precision, and context as measures of scientific quality (e.g., articles reporting claims without fact checking, specificity, or background details) (Fig. 3 ).

figure 3

Scores for six scientific quality questions (SI Coding Tool) are shown (mean, 95% confidence interval) for articles ( n  = 1331) communicating COVID-19 public health or policy information (Fig. 2 ): ( A ) applicability, ( B ) opinion versus facts, ( C ) validity, ( D ) precision, ( E ) context, and ( F ) global assessment (i.e., an overall assessment of the article’s scientific quality). Each question was evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 corresponding to highest scientific quality). Sampled articles were published between 1 March and 15 August 2020 (Methods). Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance and post-hoc multi-comparison test statistics are in SI Table S3 .

The sensationalism of pandemic media coverage

The sensationalism of news media articles was low overall for all news outlets, although somewhat greater for outlets on the left and middle of the political spectrum in Canada and the United States (Fig. 4F ). In both countries, news outlets at the populist-right combined low scientific quality with low sensationalism (Figs. 3 F and 4F ). In Canada, the overall sensationalism of news reporting and analysis was lowest for the Toronto Sun (mean summative “global” sensationalism of 1.77, n  = 106 articles; p  ≤ 0.001 for Kruskal–Wallis, p  ≤ 0.05 for pairwise comparisons with Globe and Mail and National Post , SI Table S3 ). In the United States, overall sensationalism was lower in the Wall Street Journal (mean global sensationalism of 2.03, n  = 118 articles) and New York Post (mean of 2.13, n  = 118), as compared to the New York Times (mean of 2.40, n  = 120) and Washington Post (mean of 2.38, n  = 119; p  ≤ 0.001 for Kruskal–Wallis, p  ≤ 0.05 for pairwise comparisons, SI Table S3 ). For these outlets, lower sensationalism was especially observed for exposing, speculating, and warning as measures of sensationalism (Fig. 4 ). In the United Kingdom, overall sensationalism did not vary across news outlets ( p  = 0.283 for Kruskal–Wallis, SI Table S3 ).

figure 4

Scores for six sensationalism questions (SI Coding Tool) are shown (mean, 95% confidence interval) for articles ( n  = 1331) communicating COVID-19 public health or policy information (Fig. 2 ): ( A ) exposing, ( B ) speculating, ( C ) generalizing, ( D ) warning, ( E ) extolling, and ( F ) global assessment (i.e., an overall assessment of the degree of sensationalism in the article). Each question was evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 corresponding to highest sensationalism). Sampled articles were published between 1 March and 15 August 2020 (Methods). Kruskal–Wallis one-way analysis of variance and post-hoc multi-comparison test statistics are in SI Table S3 .

Syndicated versus original reporting

Across all outlets, the scientific quality of original reporting (mean global scientific quality of 2.93, n  = 1278 articles) was significantly higher than the scientific quality of syndicated articles (mean of 2.71, n  = 54; p  = 0.020, Kruskal–Wallis; SI Fig. S6 and Table S4 ). Additionally, the sensationalism of syndicated articles (mean global sensationalism of 1.82, n  = 54 articles) was significantly lower than the sensationalism of original reporting (mean of 2.14, n  = 1278; p  ≤ 0.001, Kruskal–Wallis; SI Fig. S6 and Table S4 ). The Toronto Sun published the highest proportion of syndicated news articles by far, with 34% of the paper’s 106 coded articles originating from syndicated sources. Other news outlets with more than 1% of coded articles drawing from syndicated sources included the Toronto Star (6% of articles) and the National Post (11%).

Neither scientific quality nor sensationalism varied substantially through time, with the exception of lower scientific quality on 3 July 2020 resulting from limited coverage of the healthcare sector that day (Fig. 5 , SI Fig. S7 ).

figure 5

The topics of news media articles analyzed ( A ) over the timeframe of this study and ( B ) by news outlet are specified. Sampled articles were published on randomly sampled days between 1 March and 15 August 2020 (Methods). The topic of each article ( n  = 1331) was categorized by societal sectors (up to 2 selected per article) related to healthcare, leisure and entertainment, economics and commerce, government and politics, and other social services.

The topics of pandemic media coverage

News media articles were categorized based on the societal sectors (up to 2 per article) that were the primary focus of each article (Fig. 5 ). The sectors, related to healthcare, leisure and entertainment, economics and commerce, government and politics, and other social services, are listed in full in Figs. 5 and 6 . Although all analyzed articles contained information on the public-health effects of COVID-19 or measures to limit its spread (SI Fig. S4 ), topics of focus differed widely, for example including recreation, the arts, transportation, or daycare, not just medical facilities or vaccine research.

figure 6

Scientific quality ( A ) and sensationalism ( B ) of news media articles are indicated by the topics of articles. Overall global assessment scores for scientific quality and sensationalism (SI Coding Tool) are shown (mean, 95% confidence interval) for articles communicating COVID-19 public health or policy information (Fig. 2 ). For each article, scientific quality and sensationalism were each evaluated on a scale from 1 to 5 (5 corresponding to highest scientific quality or to highest sensationalism). Sampled articles ( n  = 1331) were published between 1 March and 15 August 2020 (Methods). The topic of each article was categorized across the following societal sectors (up to two selected per article): healthcare and institutions; health-related medical and technology research; family, lifestyle, and social groups; professional or high-level sports; public parks and recreation; culture and the arts; private sector impacts and measures; employment impacts and benefits; macroeconomics and economy-wide fiscal or stimulus measures; politics and elections; law enforcement and court systems; foreign affairs and international aid; transportation, shipping, and border closures; education and daycare; public services; and energy and the environment.

The topics of news media articles corresponded to scientific quality and sensationalism of news reporting and analysis to some degree (Fig. 6 ). News media articles related to healthcare, health institutions, and health-related research were most common (Fig. 5 ), and they had significantly greater scientific quality compared to articles on other topics (mean global scientific quality of 3.23 for healthcare and institutions and 3.72 for health-related research; p  ≤ 0.001 for Kruskal–Wallis, p  ≤ 0.05 for pairwise comparisons except with energy and the environment; Fig. 6A ). News media articles during the first four-week period studied, starting 1 March 2020, included the greatest focus (50.2% of coverage) on healthcare and related institutions and research (Fig. 5A ).

Sensationalism of articles related to politics and foreign affairs was greatest (mean global sensationalism of 2.53 for politics; and of 2.49 for foreign affairs; p  < 0.001 for Kruskal–Wallis, p  < 0.05 for pairwise comparisons of politics versus all sectors except foreign affairs, employment, and energy and the environment; Fig. 6B ). For example, sensational statements related to politics and foreign affairs could include exposing disinformation from political leaders or extolling political leaders for border closures as a pandemic or broader policy response. News outlets in the United States published the most articles related to politics and elections (63.8% of coverage across all outlets; Fig. 5B ).

Public-health policies consistently covered through time included measures related to social distancing, testing and tracing, and protective equipment and disinfection practices, while coverage of mask guidance and reopening policies increased over the course of the study (Fig. 7 ).

figure 7

Sampled articles ( n  = 1331) were published on randomly sampled days between 1 March and 15 August 2020 (Methods). Public-health policies and measures in each article were coded under specific categories related to social distancing, testing and tracing, protective equipment and disinfection practices, reopening policies, vaccines and treatments, and more (all relevant categories selected for each article).

Managing the public health and societal risks of a pandemic requires iterative, informed decision-making by governments, individuals, and the private sector. News media play a central role in communicating public health and policy information, establishing accountability for decision-making, and shaping public perceptions through the number of news reports, their content, and their tone (Klemm et al., 2016 ; Reintjes et al., 2016 ). For news outlets spanning the political spectrum of three countries with contrasting public-health outcomes and policy responses (Fig. 1 ), based on a random sample of days, coverage related to COVID-19 increased substantially in March 2020 and declined gradually thereafter in May and June (Fig. 2 ), not rebounding even during the dramatic increase in U.S. COVID-19 cases in June and July (SI Figure S5 ). Understanding this news media reporting in the early stages of COVID-19 response provides important lessons for ensuring the accessibility of information in support of public health and gauging its degree of effectiveness in creating accountability for policy decisions.

News media reporting grappled with complications of scientific understanding and its uncertainties during the timeframe of our study, as assessed through our measures of validity, precision, and overall scientific quality. For example, the mechanisms of disease transmission, especially airborne transmission, were slow to be recognized, leading to dynamic adjustments of public-health guidance (e.g., for mask usage by the general public) (Zhang et al., 2020 ). Despite such uncertainties and frequent knowledge updates over time, the scientific quality of reporting was highest for the healthcare sector, also the most commonly occurring article topic (Fig. 6 ). The scientific quality of reporting overall did not improve as the pandemic proceeded and knowledge of COVID-19 increased, which may be attributed to shifts from healthcare to other topics of news media reporting (Fig. 5 and SI Fig. S7 ).

We did, however, identify major differences in the degree to which newspaper reporting of COVID-19 presented high-quality scientific information about the public-health effects of the coronavirus disease and measures to limit its spread. News media articles generally had moderate scientific quality overall (Fig. 3F ). Outlets on the populist-right of the political spectrum of each country, though, had significantly lower scientific quality in reporting related to COVID-19 (Fig. 3F ). Scientific quality was low especially for validity, precision, and context as measures of scientific quality, as well as for the distinction between opinion versus facts in some cases (e.g., articles reporting claims without fact checking, specificity, background details, or sourcing) (Fig. 3 ). These findings pertain to news reporting and analysis, rather than opinion pieces, editorials, or letters, which were excluded from the scope of news media articles we evaluated. The differences across outlets suggest that, in reading news reporting and analysis in different newspapers, readers access reporting of varying scientific quality related to the health risks and effectiveness of available measures to limit disease transmission.

Further, patterns of U.S. media reporting were correlated with failures of national leadership under the Trump Administration, and they may have both reflected and contributed to politicization of COVID-19 in the United States. During this study’s timeframe, the United States led the world in cases and deaths despite its pre-pandemic ranking as the country best equipped to manage a pandemic such as COVID-19 (Cameron et al., 2019 ). These public-health outcomes occurred against a backdrop of disinformation and failures of national leadership (Evanega et al., 2020 ; Ball and Maxmen, 2020 ; Holtz et al., 2020 ; Lincoln, 2020 ; Thorp, 2020 ). Lack of national leadership was observed in the relative dearth of national-level public-health policies and guidance (Fig. 1 ) and the divergence of subnational policy responses, correlated with partisan politics (SI Fig. S1 and Table S1 ). Elites and incumbent governments have outsize influence on public opinion and media coverage, which likely contributed to polarization and politicization of pandemic media coverage (Green et al., 2020 ; Hart et al., 2020 ). Linked to these trends, we observed higher sensationalism related to politics and elections topics and greater coverage of these sectors among U.S. newspapers (Figs. 5 – 6 ). Additionally, news outlets on the political left in the United States (i.e., New York Times , Washington Post ) published articles with more exposing and warning coverage, for example discussing disinformation on the part of government leaders and the risks of disease (Fig. 4 ). Although most Americans believe the media are fulfilling key roles during the pandemic, the majority of these individuals identify as Democrats, and Democrats trust many more new sources than individuals identifying as Republican (Jurkowitz et al., 2020 ; Gottfried et al., 2020 ).

In both Canada and the United States, low scientific quality was paired with lower-than-average sensationalism in news outlets on the populist-right (Figs. 3 F and 4F ). Sensationalism was low overall for all news outlets, but within Canada and the United States, it was lowest for the Toronto Sun and New York Post , as well as the Wall Street Journal . Although low sensationalism is generally considered beneficial, very low sensationalism combined with low scientific quality may have failed to alert readers to public-health risks and policy failures in some cases (e.g., per the measures of exposing and warning coverage in Fig. 4 ). Such trends also resulted, in part, from higher reliance on syndicated articles, especially in Canada, potentially related to structural and economic changes in news media (SI Fig. S6 ). Across the political spectrum, our results demonstrate that existing ideological perspectives may influence how information is used in reporting (Rosella et al., 2013 ). For example, news outlets at the populist-right in the United Kingdom and the United States may tend towards support of populist-right governments, demonstrating preference for those governments’ interpretation of the science, implemented policies, and use of science to justify choices made (Bennett et al., 2008 ; Grundmann and Stehr, 2012 ).

The studied news media outlets—traditional, national-level print media—have disproportionate influence on the content of other media platforms and on how that content is covered (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 2010 ; Denham, 2014 ). A better understanding of the effects of news media—or lack thereof—on public-health decision-making and public sentiment in the early stages of this pandemic can, for future pandemics or other public-health crises, increase public-health officials’ capacity to adapt communication strategies in disseminating guidance and coordinating responses of health system stakeholders (Laing, 2011 ; Rosella et al., 2013 ; Klemm et al., 2016 ; Hoffman and Justicz, 2016 ; Pieri, 2019 ). Such understanding is crucial as the impacts of the policy actions themselves accumulate. The findings of this study point to complex interactions among scientific evidence on public-health risks and response measures, societal politicization of the science, and the scientific quality and sensationalism of media reporting. An inherent tension may exist: tendencies towards low sensationalism, especially combined with low scientific quality, may in some cases lead to characterization of public-health threats and policy failures as less extraordinary and relevant than they actually are.

Data availability

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article and its Supplementary Information .

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S. Damouras provided advising on methods of statistical analysis, and J. Niemann formatted references. Funding for this work was provided by the University of Toronto Scarborough Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

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All authors conceived the analysis. KJM, RSR, BP, JT, CAC, SGC, KET, and NK designed the methods of analysis with review by all authors. RSR, BP, JT, CAC, SGC, and KET collected data. KJM, RSR, BP, and JT performed analysis of data and developed visualizations of data. KJM, RSR, BP, JT, and NK drafted the manuscript with review and edits from all authors.

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Mach, K.J., Salas Reyes, R., Pentz, B. et al. News media coverage of COVID-19 public health and policy information. Humanit Soc Sci Commun 8 , 220 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-021-00900-z

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January 5, 2024 • The winter is usually when insects die or go into a state of paused development, but for tiny specks on the white snow called snow flies, it's time to run around, find a lover and make baby snow flies. Neuroscientist John Tuthill has been studying these creatures since he first came across them in 2016. He's found that not only can they survive in the cold, but if one of their limbs starts to freeze, they can self-amputate and pop it right off. That buys the snow fly time to find a mate and make sweet, sweet snow fly love.

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Terrorists Are Paying for Check Marks on X, Report Says

The report shows that X has accepted payments for subscriptions from entities barred from doing business in the United States, a potential violation of sanctions.

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A banner bearing a portrait of a bearded Hassan Nasrallah hangs from a destroyed building.

By Kate Conger

Reporting from San Francisco

X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk, is potentially violating U.S. sanctions by accepting payments for subscription accounts from terrorist organizations and other groups barred from doing business in the country, according to a new report.

The report, by the Tech Transparency Project , a nonprofit focused on accountability for large technology companies, shows that X, formerly known as Twitter, has taken payments from accounts that include Hezbollah leaders, Houthi groups, and state-run media outlets in Iran and Russia. The subscriptions, which cost $8 a month, offer users a blue check mark — once limited to verified users like celebrities — and better promotion by X’s algorithm, among other perks.

The U.S. Treasury Department maintains a list of entities that have been placed under sanctions, and while X’s official terms of service forbid people and organizations on the list to make payments on the platform, the report found 28 accounts that had the blue check mark.

“We were surprised to find that X was providing premium services to a wide range of groups the U.S. has sanctioned for terrorism and other activities that harm its national security,” said Katie Paul, the director of the Tech Transparency Project. “It’s yet another sign that X has lost control of its platform.”

In a statement posted to X on Wednesday, the company said: “Our teams have reviewed the report and will take action if necessary. We’re always committed to ensuring that we maintain a safe, secure and compliant platform.” Mr. Musk and the company did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier in the day, X removed check marks from several of the accounts.

Since Mr. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in 2022, the company has made drastic changes to the way it does business — in some cases spurning advertising in favor of subscription dollars. It has also restored thousands of barred accounts and rolled back rules that once governed the site.

Mr. Musk also did away with Twitter’s verification policy, in which staff members vetted politicians, celebrities, journalists and others, granting them a blue check mark to show they were real. Instead, people now pay for those badges, and popular paid accounts are eligible to receive a cut of the revenue for ads displayed next to their posts. Subscriptions for organizations cost $1,000 per month, a tier that comes with additional perks and a gold check mark.

(X still denotes official government accounts with a complimentary check mark, now gray.)

It is unclear how the organizations and people highlighted in the report skirted X’s rules to pay for their premium status. (Mr. Musk has laid off roughly 80 percent of X’s staff.) Because X no longer verifies the identities of users before granting check marks, it is also possible that the accounts discovered by the Tech Transparency Project belong to impersonators.

Congressional legislation known as the Berman amendments provides for the free flow of information, without penalties, between the United States and countries that it has placed under sanctions. Internet companies have previously leaned on the amendments, including in 2020 when TikTok argued that they protected the app from an effort by President Donald J. Trump to block U.S. citizens from downloading it. But it’s unclear whether the argument would cover financial transactions on a social media service.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, appears to have started paying X in November for a premium account and frequently posts news releases and memes mocking the United States and Israel to his 93,000 followers. His account is labeled ID-verified, meaning the account holder provided a copy of a government-issued ID to X.

An account that identifies as Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iranian-backed militia, also received the blue check mark in November and promotes its causes to more than 11,000 followers. And the Yemeni militia known as the Houthis subscribed this month, just weeks after the United States said it would be designated a terrorist group following its attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea .

On Facebook, by contrast, searches for Mr. Nasrallah come with a warning that his name is “sometimes associated with activities of Dangerous Individuals and Organizations.”

Impostors seized the opportunity to impersonate brands when X introduced subscriptions in late 2022, and the site has since struggled to police scammers. Last month, an account with a gold check mark accumulated 35,000 followers as it posted praise of Hitler before it was suspended. ( Vice News earlier reported the news.) And in October, some accounts bearing the blue check mark spread false information about the conflict in Gaza.

X originally granted free premium accounts to some of its top advertisers, but ran into problems even with those as many were hacked, according to internal messages viewed by The New York Times. This month, Monique Pintarelli, X’s head of ad sales in the Americas, demanded an audit of all the accounts that had received free gold check marks and asked employees to strip the badges from accounts that were compromised, those messages said.

Ryan Mac contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

Kate Conger is a technology reporter based in San Francisco. She can be reached at [email protected]. More about Kate Conger

Trump campaign scrambles over abortion ban report as Democrats seize the moment

Image: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s campaign and abortion rights advocates ripped into former President Donald Trump on abortion Friday following a report that he has given private signals in favor of a national ban on abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy that would include exceptions in cases of rape, incest and when the woman’s life is in danger.

During his presidential campaign, Trump has steered clear of taking a public position on a prospective national ban — which would require congressional approval — but The New York Times reported Friday that he has indicated behind closed doors that he likes the idea of prohibiting abortion after 16 weeks in most cases.

A source familiar with conversations told NBC News that he has talked to his advisers about supporting abortion rights up to 16 weeks as well, although a separate source cautioned he had not settled on a federal ban. The Trump campaign in a statement blasted reporting suggesting otherwise as "fake news."

“As President Trump has stated, he would sit down with both sides and negotiate a deal that everyone will be happy with,” Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt said in a statement. “Joe Biden and virtually every Democrat in Congress is on the record supporting radical on-demand abortion.”

The Biden campaign and abortion rights advocates seized on the potential political fallout, quickly hosting a press call to frame the former president as a dangerous and extreme possibility should he be elected in November.

Biden himself released a lengthy statement laying out the impact of Roe v. Wade's reversal, including the passage of stringent anti-abortion laws in conservative states.

"Now, after being the one responsible for taking away women’s freedom, after being the one to put women’s lives in danger, after being the one who has unleashed all this cruelty and chaos all across America, Trump is running scared. He’s afraid the women of America are going to hold him responsible for taking away their rights and endangering their rights at the ballot box in November," Biden said in the statement. "The choice is very simple. Kamala and I will restore Roe v. Wade and make it once again the law of the land. Donald Trump will ban abortion nationwide."

In a January NBC News poll of registered voters, 44% said they thought Biden would handle abortion better than Trump, with 32% saying the reverse. Trump, who appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade abortion protections in 2022, has blamed Republican electoral losses on GOP candidates pushing stricter abortion bans at the state and national levels.

“I just want folks to understand that all abortion bans are radical and voters dislike them deeply,” Reproductive Freedom for All President Mini Timmaraju said on a call hosted by the Biden campaign on Friday. “Exceptions are designed not to work, and they’re impossible to enforce in these incredibly draconian states with these extreme bans. So it’s gonna be our job as advocates to make that clear to the American people, this is not a moderate position, and we have to debunk that aggressively and often.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, a key Trump ally on the issue and president of the anti-abortion SBA List, lauded the idea of a 16-week ban Friday.

"We strongly agree with President Trump on protecting babies from abortion violence at least by a point when they feel pain," Dannenfelser said in a statement to NBC News. "President Trump wants to lead in finding consensus, and this is around where the nation is."

Trump once took credit for his role in limiting access to abortion,  having boasted  in May: “I was able to kill Roe v. Wade.” In a  September interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,”  he toned down his talk but mentioned 15 weeks as a possible number.

Trump said then that “people are starting to think of 15 weeks” as “a number that people are talking about right now” in terms of a federal abortion ban, but quickly added, “No, no,” when asked if he would sign such legislation as president.

“We’re going to agree to a number of weeks or months or however you want to define it,”  he said . “And both sides are going to come together, and both sides — both sides, and this is a big statement — both sides will come together. And for the first time in 52 years, you’ll have an issue that we can put behind us.”

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Natasha Korecki is a senior national political reporter for NBC News.

recent media report

Jonathan Allen is a senior national politics reporter for NBC News, based in Washington.

recent media report

Kristen Welker is the moderator of "Meet the Press".

How to Create a Social Media Report [Free Template Included]

A comprehensive social media report proves the value of your social marketing plan. It shows what you’ve accomplished, backed up by data.

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Table of Contents

We’ll say it: if you’re not creating social media reports to track your progress and analyze your performance, you’re wasting your time. (Harsh? Maybe. But we’re all about that tough love when it comes to social media success.)

Collecting and analyzing data about your top-performing posts, your audience, and, yeah, even your humiliating flops, is the secret to improving your social media performance. Without this vital information, it’s almost impossible to grow your following or achieve your social media goals . As business bros love to say: what can’t be measured, can’t be managed.

Plus, social media reports are pretty much the only way to demonstrate the value of your social marketing efforts to your team and your boss. From staff morale to increased budgets to growing your team, it’s critical to have data that shows the importance of your work to the organization .

But here’s our little secret: social media reporting actually doesn’t have to be hard. Building social media reports is easy with a social media report template. (And if filling out that even seems like too much, Hootsuite Analytics can auto-generate the custom report of your dreams .)

It’s time to whip up some social media reports to prove your worth and set your social strategy on track for success — and we’ve got the tips, tricks, and social media report template to help you do just that.

Bonus: Get a free social media report template to easily and effectively present your social media performance to key stakeholders.

What is a social media report?

A social media report is a document with an in-depth analysis of your social media performance over a specific period.

Social media reports help you track your key performance indicators (KPIs) , measure the success of your social media campaigns , and identify opportunities for optimization.

For instance, a report on your brand’s Instagram account might reveal that your followers comment more on videos than they do on photos. You might learn that your Instagram Reels are achieving a wider reach than your Instagram Carousel posts . You might see that you’ve received an uptick of followers from Latvia… and notice that they’re all teenage boys. (What’s going on over there?)

In other words, each data point will help you and your team identify patterns. And with these patterns, you’ll be better equipped to serve your audience more of what they like… online and offline.

TLDR: Whether you’re reporting to your team, clients, or stakeholders, a well-crafted social media report can provide valuable insights into your efforts and help contribute to informed decision-making.

What to include in your social media report

Every social media report is going to be a little different, depending on your business’ unique social media goals . What’s important to a fast food company might be different than what’s important to a university, right? (Hamburgers and followers; tenure and engagement.)

This list of things to include in your social media report is more of a suggestion than a rule. Pick and choose what matters to you!

Executive summary

Many social media reports start with a brief overview of the report’s findings and highlights. This is ultimately a snapshot of your social media performance — a few sentences that summarize the details that are outlined in full later in the doc.

Social media objectives

A quick overview of your social media strategy helps provide a little context, reminding readers of what we’re trying to do here. Does your company use social primarily as a channel for customer service ? Social commerce ? Brand awareness? All of the above?

Be sure to highlight any changes in strategy since the last time you reported, including any new channels you’ve incorporated into your social mix.

recent media report

Beautiful reports. Clear data. Actionable insights to help you grow faster.

Period-specific goals

What were you hoping to accomplish during this reporting period? An increase in the number of followers, perhaps? Maybe you were hoping to increase traffic to your website. Whatever yours is, outline this so everyone reading the report understands what “success” specifically means.

Metrics and KPIs

Present the social media KPIs that you’re tracking. It probably goes without saying, but these metrics should align with your goals (above). Metrics you might want to showcase could include engagement, reach, followers, website clicks, or conversion rates.

Performance analysis

This is where the juicy stuff happens. To analyze your performance, you’ll want to review how your metrics and KPIS stack up against your stated goal. Identify trends, successes, and areas that need improvement.

Campaign insights

If you ran specific campaigns over the reporting period, create a separate segment to share insights about their performance. What worked well? What could be tweaked for next time?

Competitor analysis

You probably have a sense at this point of how your accounts have grown or changed over the weeks or months, but comparing your performance to your peers can provide some interesting insight as well. Consider including a competitive analysis to benchmark your performance against other brands in the industry.

Audience insights

Share up-to-date demographic information about your audience. Who are your followers? Where are they from, how old are they, what else do we know about their interests and behavior? Understanding who is consuming your content allows you to tailor future posts accordingly.

audience insights Hootsuite by age country and city

Content analysis

There may be some interesting insights to be found in the type of content that’s trending or flopping. Evaluate the performance of different types of content — text, images, videos, and so on. Identify which content resonated the most with your audience.

Hootsuite Facebook pages analysis of content performance

Platform performance

Different social networks may require unique strategies — your TikTok stats and your Instagram stats could tell two totally different stories. If you’re active on multiple platforms, assess the performance of each one in this section.

Recommendations

Welcome to the conclusion of your social media report. Based on your analysis and findings, suggest actionable recommendations for future campaigns or the next reporting period.

How to create a social media report in 11 steps

Creating a social media report isn’t as daunting as it sounds — particularly if you’re here on this blog post where we’re about to lay out the super-simple step-by-step instructions for building one from scratch. (If we were making a report about how great your day is going, our analysis would be: you’re crushing it.)

But if even that process feels overwhelming, don’t stress. Scroll down to find an easy-to-customize social media report template waiting for you.

(Or here’s a pro tip: sign up for Hootsuite to access custom, automated reporting, delivered in beautiful PDFs.)

Breaking it down into manageable steps can simplify the process. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a comprehensive social media report:

recent media report

Create. Schedule. Publish. Engage. Measure. Win.

Step 1: Determine who this social media report is for

Is this for your boss, or the sales team, or to get the new marketing intern up to speed? Is it for shareholders? Are you sharing this with the general public?

Understanding who is reading this report will help shape what information goes in it… and sometimes, less is more.

Step 2: Set clear goals and objectives

Begin by defining the goals and objectives you want to achieve through your social media efforts.

Then, break that down into smaller, more time-specific goals that individual reporting periods will aim to tackle.

Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, or boost engagement? Clear goals will guide your analysis.

It’s a good idea to use the SMART goal-setting framework , since it ensures you create goals that are straightforward to track and report.

Step 3: Choose relevant metrics

Once you’ve settled on your goals, it’s time to decide just how you’ll measure your progress towards those goals. For instance, if your goal is to reach a younger demographic, increasing your followers on TikTok could be a great objective… and a number that’s easy to track and measure.

The metrics that matter will be different for every marketing team, but some key overall metrics to include for your social program are:

  • Number of leads generated
  • Number of conversions
  • Total revenue generated
  • Total return on investment (ROI)
  • Total spend (on social ads )
  • Social share of voice
  • Social sentiment

add a metric on Hootsuite Analytics such as average post engagement rate, new fans and followers, and page & profile reach

If you’re using social media for customer service, it’s also a good idea to report on service metrics like net promoter score (NPS), customer satisfaction score (CSAT), and ticket resolution time.

Of course, you can include much more data if it’s relevant to your objectives. For a full breakdown of all the numbers you might want to include in your social media business report, check out our post on social media metrics that really matter .

Step 4: Gather data

Collect data for the reporting period, across all of the relevant platforms your brand uses. (Most social media platforms offer built-in analytics, but you can also use third-party tools for a more comprehensive analysis… like, ahem, Hootsuite Insights .)

If it makes sense for your team, you can get even more specific and break things down by format within a network, such as Stories vs. posts vs. Reels .

No matter what metrics you choose, provide some previous results for context. After all, data means nothing in a vacuum. If you’re reporting on a campaign, look for a similar past campaign to compare what you achieved.

If you’re creating a regular weekly or monthly report, track your results compared to the previous several weeks or months. This allows you to see ongoing trends. You could also compare your results to the same period from the previous year, to account for any seasonal trends.

Step 5: Analyze performance

Data doesn’t mean anything if you don’t think about it — and form conclusions or insights.

What do the numbers you’ve painstakingly compiled show you? What kind of patterns, trends, or anomalies do you spot here? Identify which content and strategies contributed most to your success… and where your weak spots still might be.

Highlight anything that went specifically well during this reporting period.

Look beyond the numbers here. Maybe you made contact with a key social media influencer for the first time. Or maybe a particularly compelling review came in through social that you’ll be able to use in future marketing campaigns.

Include room in your social media report to share all forms of success that are relevant to your goals.

Step 6: Create visuals

If you’ve got the tools to do so, visualize your data using graphs, charts, and tables. ( Hootsuite can generate these sort of things for you—just sayin’!)

visuals with graphs for Facebook page engagement

Visual representations make it easier to understand complex information and trends at a glance. Google Sheets can crank out infographics out with a few taps of the button… Canva is an easy graphic design tool to use, too.

Step 7: Compare your data with previous periods

Once you’ve been doing this for a while, consider comparing your current performance with previous reporting periods in your social media report.

Seeing one year or one week compared to another can help you gauge progress and identify areas where you’ve improved or (gulp) regressed.

Step 8: Share audience insights

Collect information about your audience demographics, interests and behaviors, and share these in your social media report.

Who is your average follower at this specific moment in time? When are they online, and what do they do there?

You can find this information in most platforms’ internal analytics, but social media dashboards like Hootsuite can help pull info from multiple platforms together in one spot.

Step 9: Provide competitive analysis

Pull some recent data about your competitors and industry — where are companies thriving or struggling? This info can help you benchmark your own performance in a greater context.

industry benchmarking profile impressions, audience growth rate, and post engagement rate

Direct competitors are great to watch here, but it might also be helpful to keep track of non-industry accounts that you admire, too… there’s plenty to be learned from other brands who might be courting the same type of audience..

Step 10: Create a campaign evaluation

Chances are, at some point or another, you’re going to be running a specific campaign (either organic or paid) with the hopes of making a particular impact. If you’ve invested money or time into one strategic campaign, it’s time to evaluate its effectiveness.

Did your ad blitz totally falter on Facebook , but thrive on Pinterest ? Did you totally nail it with your target demographic for your Instagram Stories ads? Determine what aspects led to success and what can be improved in future campaigns.

Hootsuite Analytics campaign engagement amount spent and Facebook post organic impressions

Step 11: Recommendations and action plan

Now that you’ve soaked up all this juicy, juicy data, it’s time to make some educated suggestions on what should happen next.

Does your team need to invest in some targeted social ads to improve your reach? Should you double down on creating TikTok videos ?

Provide actionable recommendations for future campaigns, whether that means suggesting content ideas or adjusting posting schedules.

Types of social media reports

Depending on your specific goals or audience, your social media report can take a few different forms. Here are a few common types of social media reports:

Monthly reports

As you might’ve guessed from the name, monthly social media reports provide a snapshot of your performance over a month. They are useful for tracking short-term goals, and allow you to make adjustments to strategy in real-time.

Quarterly reports

Quarterly reports offer a more comprehensive analysis of your performance over (you guessed it) a quarter. These types of social media reports provide a broader perspective, and help your team identify long-term trends.

Campaign-specific reports

As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to report on and track campaign metrics in your broader social media reports, too, but you might find it useful to create a dedicated report for a particular campaign. With a hyper-forcused review like this, you’ll be able to offer detailed insights into its success and areas for improvement.

Platform-specific reports

Each social media platform has its own unique dynamic, so you may find it tricky to review the nuances in one generalized report. That’s where platform-specific social media reports come in. For businesses active on multiple platforms, creating platform-specific reports allows you to tailor your analysis more precisely.

Free social media report template

There you have it: everything you need to know to create a winning social media report. But, hey, we get it, you’re busy keeping your social media content calendar full of engaging content: let us give you a head-start. Use this basic social media report template to kick off a new romance with reporting.

Best social media reporting tools

Creating a social media report is made easier with the help of various reporting tools. Here are some of the best tools available:

In-platform analytics tools

Whether you’re diving into your Instagram numbers or your LinkedIn data, social media platforms feature an in-house analytics platform that will shed light on your performance.

Learn more about each of the social media platforms’ analytics tools here:

  • Meta Business Suite
  • TikTok Analytics
  • LinkedIn Analytics
  • X/ Twitter Analytics

Meta Facebook Story Insights

Hootsuite Analytics

Hootsuite Analytics is a social media analytics tool that lets you easily track the performance of all your social channels in one place  so you can replicate what works and get more engagement.

The tool also makes it easy to create custom reports to showcase your results to your boss and share insights with your team.

Hootsuite Analytics collects your stats from Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, and TikTok.

recent media report

Free 30-day trial

It helps you track metrics like:

  • Engagement rate
  • Impressions
  • Video views
  • New followers
  • Total followers
  • Profile visits
  • Negative feedback rate
  • Website clicks
  • Average time watched
  • Number of messages, calls, and emails
  • Daily engaged users
  • And much more

You can set up custom boards that give you an overview of your most important metrics at a glance, over a select period of time and look up much more granular information, down to individual post performance.

With Hootsuite Analytics, you can also:

  • Find out when your audience is online
  • Get personalized recommendations for your best times to post for each of your accounts
  • Easily view industry benchmarks and see how you compare to competitors

Hootsuite Best Time to Publish feature - heatmap showcasing best times to post on Facebook

Start free trial 

Hootsuite’s Brandwatch integration is a social media report gamechanger. Brandwatch’s powerful search scours the world’s largest pool of social data to return relevant data that actually matters. Industry-leading features segment and analyze your data to reveal actionable insights, thanks to easy-to-use functionality and unparalleled processing speeds.

Brandwatch market analysis

Google Analytics

If you’re using social media for business, you’re probably already on the case with Google Analytics… but if you’re new to the powerhouse data tool, allow us to fill you in.

Google Analytics is a powerful web analytics tool offered by Google that provides valuable insights into website and app performance, and even can help track social media traffic. It’s widely used by businesses, marketers, and website owners to track and measure user interactions, analyze traffic sources, and gather data to optimize online presence.

Google Analytics audience overview user interactions and demographics

Panoramiq Insights

Are you grammin’ hard? Those with a dedicated Instagram focus will find this tool invaluable for effortlessly managing essential metrics.

Seamlessly integrating with Hootsuite, Panoramiq Insights allows you to conveniently access crucial Instagram metrics directly from your dashboard. Panoramiq Insights offers comprehensive analytics for your entire range of Instagram actions, spanning posts, Stories, and Reels. It facilitates the tracking of user information, encompassing follower demographics and new follow interactions.

Panoramiq Insights Instagram Account and Follower Analytics

A fave here at Hootsuite HQ, Talkwalker leads the industry in social data intelligence.

Leveraging the prowess of artificial intelligence, its technology delivers actionable insights derived from real-time social media monitoring and sophisticated analytics.

Define and categorize conversations that matter using over 50 filters, and make informed decisions on how to engage with your audience.

To get more details on how to make the most of the data available through all of these social reporting tools, check out our blog post dedicated to social media analytics.

Talkwalker Hootsuite demographics including gender non-binary gender age language interests and occupations

Use Hootsuite to do all your social media reporting from a single dashboard. Choose what to track, get compelling visuals, and easily share reports with stakeholders. Try it free today.

Get Started

All your social media analytics in one place . Use Hootsuite to see what’s working and where to improve performance.

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Stacey McLachlan is an award-winning writer and editor from Vancouver with more than a decade of experience working for print and digital publications.

She is editor-at-large for Western Living and Vancouver Magazine, author of the National Magazine Award-nominated 'City Informer' column, and a regular contributor to Dwell. Her previous work covers a wide range of topics, from SEO-focused thought-leadership to profiles of mushroom foragers, but her specialties include design, people, social media strategy, and humor.

You can usually find her at the beach, or cleaning sand out of her bag.

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How political parties have changed over time

A number of factors have led to political parties getting weaker. Stanford political scientist Didi Kuo explains why and what implications this could have for 2024 and beyond.

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Image credit: Claire Scully

As Americans head to the polls this year, a growing number of voters are disgruntled by national politics and their elected officials . Survey after survey has found that Americans are increasingly falling out of favor with the country’s two political parties – a trend likely to continue in what Stanford political scientist Didi Kuo is describing as a “brutal” campaign season.

“Americans are already exhausted by it, even though it has barely begun,” said Kuo, a center fellow at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

Like other democratic institutions, political parties are reckoning with a crisis of public confidence .

“Political parties remain critical to organizing democracy but they are beleaguered,” said Kuo.

Stanford Report sat down with Kuo to learn more about the discord between political parties, candidates, and voters and what these fissures may mean for the 2024 election.

No longer gatekeepers

Kuo sees several factors that have led to political parties’ waning support among the American public, including reforms made in the early 1970s.

Until then, political parties used to have more power in selecting the party nomination for presidency.

But after Hubert Humphrey secured the Democratic Party nomination in 1968 for president of the United States without ever taking part in any of the country’s primary races, changes to the presidential nomination process were made to give voters more power in deciding who will represent the party at the general election.

“Political parties used to be gatekeepers in politics. Now, voters have a much bigger say in determining who’s going to be the presidential candidate,” said Kuo.

Those changes made it possible for Donald Trump, an insurgent candidate who had neither formal membership in the Republican Party nor any previous military or government experience to secure the nomination.

Over recent years, incumbents have faced challengers in primary elections who often tout their lack of government experience as a strength rather than a weakness.

“The party seems to have very little leverage determining who gets to run under its party label,” Kuo said.

This makes the party vulnerable to outsiders and radical candidates, and also undermines the party’s ability to choose candidates who share the party’s priorities. The party has few ways to manage factional conflict or vet candidates for office when it cannot serve as a gatekeeper in politics.

More susceptible to outside influences

Another change Kuo sees as transformative to the current political landscape was the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 – also known as the McCain-Feingold Act – that limited financial contributions people can make to political parties and campaigns.

“That had the consequence of expanding the type of financing that donors would pursue outside of the party through 501(c)(4)s or super PACs,” Kuo said.

In addition, the ruling by the Supreme Court in the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case equating corporate, political communication to that of an individual has also accelerated new ways for political power to take shape.

“What we see is a world not just of parties trying to vie for seats in the legislature or candidates, but also of these external party organizations that sometimes are connected to the party and sometimes not,” Kuo said. “These groups can run their own ads, drum up support for their own issues, and collect a lot of money, sometimes undisclosed, on behalf of specific candidates and parties.”

Kuo thinks these party-like organizations will be particularly important in 2024. “Many groups are mobilizing voters around specific issues, such as abortion rights, while others may mobilize for and against specific candidates, like the faction of ‘Never-Trumpers’ from 2020,” Kuo said.

A growing appeal of populist candidates

Another issue Kuo is paying attention to is the rise of populist, extremist candidates, a trend occurring both in the U.S. and across the globe.

Kuo, alongside her colleagues at FSI, have examined how after the financial crisis of 2008, an increasing number of voters on both the left and right have become frustrated – aggrieved, even – by their democratic and economic institutions.

“One of the things people were turning toward were populist candidates who claimed that the entire system was rigged,” Kuo said.

Kuo added: “2024 is going to be a really difficult year for Congress. It’ll be a real test of whether or not extremists can still outperform moderate Republicans.”

New ways to mobilize

The advent of digital and social media has had a transformative effect on how political parties and candidates can rally their base. In addition, data analytics afforded by these new tools has also helped candidates build targeted and effective communication strategies – all without the backing of a political party.

An example of that is Stacey Abrams, who led a galvanizing campaign to flip her home state of Georgia from Republican to Democrat in the 2020 election.

“Stacey Abrams had a massive organizational, multiyear effort in Georgia because she was convinced that you could turn the state blue, but the party was not behind those efforts ,” Kuo said. “It was driven at a local level.”

Meanwhile, the same tools that have helped candidates reach people at the local level are also being used to find support beyond their precincts.

“There’s empirical evidence showing that new candidates who come into the political process to challenge an incumbent often have a lot of support from outside their district,” said Kuo. “It’s easier now for people to find candidates they support and circumvent a traditional party approach to cultivating a candidate.”

No longer reflecting what voters want or believe

When Americans are surveyed about how they feel on different policy issues, they are actually not that divided. Rather, it is the political class that has become more polarized , leading voters to feel alienated from their party.

“People feel distant from parties more and more,” Kuo said.

Increasingly, people are shunning a party label entirely and identifying as independent . Here too, political scientists see changes among how independents behave as well.

The conventional wisdom was that independent voters were people who didn’t like labels but were still solidly Democrats or Republicans, Kuo explained.

“Now, there is new evidence showing that people who call themselves ‘independent’ are turned off by the party system and see both parties as corrupt. They are very cynical about the role of special interests,” she added. “They don’t think their vote matters. When people develop this attitude, that’s more of a rejection of the party system. Many voters may feel unenthusiastic about another Biden-Trump contest and disillusioned with both parties. However, there was record turnout in 2020, and hopefully cynicism will not keep people away from the polls when the stakes of the race are so high.”

Political parties have gotten weaker

Overall, these changes have culminated in political parties becoming weaker.

“Parties have always had this tension between being run by a set of leaders who make decisions and also being democratic,” said Kuo.

Over the year to come, Kuo expects tensions to continue – not only among political parties but with other democratic institutions as well.

“I think there will continue to be a big tension between what the Supreme Court rules on things like democracy and rights and what people actually want,” Kuo said, adding how this has already been seen at the state level where voters have taken a collective stand against issues like restrictive abortion measures.

“Hopefully, there’s some way in which democracy can serve as a corrective to some policy areas where people feel as if a majority opinion is not represented.”

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Helen Coster is a Media Correspondent at Reuters, where she writes a mix of spot news, enterprise and analysis stories. She was previously a Senior Editor on Reuters' Commentary team, where she assigned, edited and wrote analysis pieces. Prior to joining Reuters, Coster worked as a senior writer at Forbes, where she wrote magazine and web stories and a blog about the intersection of business and social issues. A graduate of Princeton University, she has reported from six countries, including Pakistan, India, and Greece.

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Americans’ social media use, youtube and facebook are by far the most used online platforms among u.s. adults; tiktok’s user base has grown since 2021.

To better understand Americans’ social media use, Pew Research Center surveyed 5,733 U.S. adults from May 19 to Sept. 5, 2023. Ipsos conducted this National Public Opinion Reference Survey (NPORS) for the Center using address-based sampling and a multimode protocol that included both web and mail. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race and ethnicity, education and other categories.

Polls from 2000 to 2021 were conducted via phone. For more on this mode shift, read our Q&A .

Here are the questions used for this analysis , along with responses, and  its methodology ­­­.

A note on terminology: Our May-September 2023 survey was already in the field when Twitter changed its name to “X.” The terms  Twitter  and  X  are both used in this report to refer to the same platform.

Social media platforms faced a range of controversies in recent years, including concerns over misinformation and data privacy . Even so, U.S. adults use a wide range of sites and apps, especially YouTube and Facebook. And TikTok – which some Congress members previously called to ban – saw growth in its user base.

These findings come from a Pew Research Center survey of 5,733 U.S. adults conducted May 19-Sept. 5, 2023.

Which social media sites do Americans use most?

A horizontal bar chart showing that most U.S. adults use YouTube and Facebook; about half use Instagram.

YouTube by and large is the most widely used online platform measured in our survey. Roughly eight-in-ten U.S. adults (83%) report ever using the video-based platform.

While a somewhat lower share reports using it, Facebook is also a dominant player in the online landscape. Most Americans (68%) report using the social media platform.

Additionally, roughly half of U.S. adults (47%) say they use Instagram .

The other sites and apps asked about are not as widely used , but a fair portion of Americans still use them:

  • 27% to 35% of U.S. adults use Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Snapchat.
  • About one-in-five say they use Twitter (recently renamed “X”) and Reddit.  

This year is the first time we asked about BeReal, a photo-based platform launched in 2020. Just 3% of U.S. adults report using it.

Recent Center findings show that YouTube also dominates the social media landscape among U.S. teens .

TikTok sees growth since 2021

One platform – TikTok – stands out for growth of its user base. A third of U.S. adults (33%) say they use the video-based platform, up 12 percentage points from 2021 (21%).

A line chart showing that a third of U.S. adults say they use TikTok, up from 21% in 2021.

The other sites asked about had more modest or no growth over the past couple of years. For instance, while YouTube and Facebook dominate the social media landscape, the shares of adults who use these platforms has remained stable since 2021.

The Center has been tracking use of online platforms for many years. Recently, we shifted from gathering responses via telephone to the web and mail. Mode changes can affect study results in a number of ways, therefore we have to take a cautious approach when examining how things have – or have not – changed since our last study on these topics in 2021. For more details on this shift, please read our Q&A .

Stark age differences in who uses each app or site

Adults under 30 are far more likely than their older counterparts to use many of the online platforms. These findings are consistent with previous Center data .

A dot plot showing that the youngest U.S. adults are far more likely to use Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok; age differences are less pronounced for Facebook.

Age gaps are especially large for Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok – platforms that are used by majorities of adults under 30. For example:

  • 78% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram, far higher than the share among those 65 and older (15%).
  • 65% of U.S. adults under 30 report using Snapchat, compared with just 4% of the oldest age cohort.
  • 62% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use TikTok, much higher than the share among adults ages 65 years and older (10%).
  • Americans ages 30 to 49 and 50 to 64 fall somewhere in between for all three platforms.

YouTube and Facebook are the only two platforms that majorities of all age groups use. That said, there is still a large age gap between the youngest and oldest adults when it comes to use of YouTube. The age gap for Facebook, though, is much smaller.

Americans ages 30 to 49 stand out for using three of the platforms – LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Facebook – at higher rates. For instance, 40% of this age group uses LinkedIn, higher than the roughly three-in-ten among those ages 18 to 29 and 50 to 64. And just 12% of those 65 and older say the same. 

Overall, a large majority of the youngest adults use multiple sites and apps. About three-quarters of adults under 30 (74%) use at least five of the platforms asked about. This is far higher than the shares of those ages 30 to 49 (53%), 50 to 64 (30%), and ages 65 and older (8%) who say the same.  

Refer to our social media fact sheet for more detailed data by age for each site and app.

Other demographic differences in use of online platforms

A number of demographic differences emerge in who uses each platform. Some of these include the following:

  • Race and ethnicity: Roughly six-in-ten Hispanic (58%) and Asian (57%) adults report using Instagram, somewhat higher than the shares among Black (46%) and White (43%) adults. 1
  • Gender: Women are more likely than their male counterparts to say they use the platform.
  • Education: Those with some college education and those with a college degree report using it at somewhat higher rates than those who have a high school degree or less education.
  • Race and ethnicity: Hispanic adults are particularly likely to use TikTok, with 49% saying they use it, higher than Black adults (39%). Even smaller shares of Asian (29%) and White (28%) adults say the same.
  • Gender: Women use the platform at higher rates than men (40% vs. 25%).
  • Education: Americans with higher levels of formal education are especially likely to use LinkedIn. For instance, 53% of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree report using the platform, far higher than among those who have some college education (28%) and those who have a high school degree or less education (10%). This is the largest educational difference measured across any of the platforms asked about.

Twitter (renamed “X”)

  • Household income: Adults with higher household incomes use Twitter at somewhat higher rates. For instance, 29% of U.S. adults who have an annual household income of at least $100,000 say they use the platform. This compares with one-in-five among those with annual household incomes of $70,000 to $99,999, and around one-in-five among those with annual incomes of less than $30,000 and those between $30,000 and $69,999.
  • Gender: Women are far more likely to use Pinterest than men (50% vs. 19%).
  • Race and ethnicity: 54% of Hispanic adults and 51% of Asian adults report using WhatsApp. This compares with 31% of Black adults and even smaller shares of those who are White (20%).

A heat map showing how use of online platforms – such as Facebook, Instagram or TikTok – differs among some U.S. demographic groups.

  • Estimates for Asian adults are representative of English speakers only. ↩

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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .

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New HHS Study Finds Nearly $124 Billion Positive Fiscal Impact of Refugees and Asylees on the American Economy in a 15-Year Period

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) published a groundbreaking report, The Fiscal Impact of Refugees and Asylees at The Federal, State and Local Levels From 2005-2019 . This in-depth analysis examines the fiscal impact of refugees and asylees on the U.S. government and economy. This report sheds light on the significant contributions made by refugees and asylees to the U.S. economy and society. These findings can inform decision-making on resettlement services and contribute to the broader research on the positive impacts of refugees in American communities.

“This historic federal study is important data-driven evidence demonstrating that over time, refugees, asylees, and their immediate families have made significant positive fiscal contributions to our country,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “I hope this report becomes a key reference for decision-makers in all levels of government when it comes to refugee resettlement.”

 “We operate this program because of our country’s commitment to supporting the humanitarian needs of those escaping persecution in their home country,” said Robin Dunn Marcos, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Humanitarian Services and Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. “We have witnessed for years, the significant contributions that refugees and asylees provide to our communities and workplaces. This report affirms ORR’s mission and commitment, and we celebrate these and other contributions refugees and asylees bring to this country.”

Some of the key findings include:  

  • Net Fiscal Impact: Refugees and asylees had a positive net fiscal impact on the U.S. government over the 15-year period, totaling $123.8 billion. The net fiscal benefit to the federal government was estimated at $31.5 billion and approximately $92.3 billion to state and local governments. When compared with the total U.S. population on a per capita basis, refugees and asylees had a comparable net fiscal impact.
  • Government Revenue: Refugees and asylees contributed an estimated $581 billion in revenue to all levels of government. Through payroll, income, and excise taxes, they contributed an estimated $363 billion to the federal government, and through income, sales, and property taxes, they contributed $218 billion to state and local governments.
  • Government Expenditures: Over the 15-year period, governmental expenditures on refugees and asylees totaled an estimated $457.2 billion. Expenditures by the federal government represented 72.5 percent of the total, at $331.5 billion, while state and local government expenditures were 27.5 percent of the total, at $125.7 billion.

While this study does not account for the full lifetime costs and benefits of refugees and asylees nor estimates the impact based on region, time in the US. or age, it focuses instead on the total impact over a specified time period. The analysis demonstrates how the U.S. humanitarian programs to assist arrivals, despite the initial cost to the government, has led to positive cumulative effects over time on government budgets.

“This report contributes to what we know about our financial return on assisting new humanitarian arrivals,” said Miranda Lynch-Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy, ASPE. “This study opens the door for future research into the impact of different groups of refugees and asylees, such as from specific regions of the world, time in the United States, or age upon resettlement.”

HHS remains committed to welcoming all new arrivals with equitable, high-quality support so they can maximize their potential in the United States.

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    By comparison, Americans in early 2020 were far more likely to say the news media were declining in influence. Nearly half (48%) at that time said this, compared with far fewer (32%) who said news organizations were growing in influence. The 2021 figures more closely resemble responses from 2011 - the next most recent time this was asked ...

  6. News Consumption Across Social Media in 2021

    A little under half (48%) of U.S. adults say they get news from social media "often" or "sometimes," a 5 percentage point decline compared with 2020, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted July 26-Aug. 8, 2021. 1 When it comes to where Americans regularly get news on social media, Facebook outpaces all other social media sites.

  7. Overview and key findings of the 2022 Digital News Report

    Despite pledges to crack down, social media posts and videos denying climate change or disputing its causes remain widespread on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, according to recent research. 9. In this year's report we find increased polarisation around climate change in a number of countries, including the United States, and identify ...

  8. The Global Media Intelligence Report 2021

    The Global Media Intelligence Report 2021 - Insider Intelligence Trends, Forecasts & Statistics Insights Events Pricing About The Global Media Intelligence Report 2021 A Reference Guide to Consumers' Media Use in 43 Countries Report by Karin von Abrams | Oct 21, 2021 The Global Media Intelligence Report 2021

  9. Journalism That Stands Apart

    The report of the The New York Times's 2020 group, on the future of the newsroom. ... Recent media accounts have made clear the gap: Last year, The Times brought in almost $500 million in purely ...

  10. Digital media trends 2023

    2023 Digital media trends: Immersed and connected Younger generations are weaving TV, gaming, and UGC into a tapestry of entertainment, community, and meaning. Kevin Westcott United States Jana Arbanas United States Chris Arkenberg United States Brooke Auxier United States

  11. U.S. News and National Top Stories : NPR

    NPR coverage of national news, U.S. politics, elections, business, arts, culture, health and science, and technology. Subscribe to the NPR Nation RSS feed.

  12. Reflecting on the essential role of the news media in 2020, and ...

    On the first of our two end-of-the-year podcast episodes, Oliver Darcy, Kerry Flynn, Chloe Melas, Frank Pallotta, and Donie O'Sullivan revisited the biggest stories of 2020, from Disney+ to ...

  13. Latest News: Top News Stories, Updates, Videos, and Photos

    World News Politics George Rose / Getty Images file Economy Super Bowl fans are flooding Vegas with cash. Don't bet on a big windfall for workers. Ryan Garza / USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters file...

  14. Media

    Associated Press Jan. 24, 2024 A Fire in China's Jiangxi Province Kills at Least 39 People, State Media Says Chinese state media say at least 39 people died and nine others were injured when a...

  15. News media coverage of COVID-19 public health and policy ...

    News media play a central role in communicating public health and policy information, establishing accountability for decision-making, and shaping public perceptions through the number of news ...

  16. Research News : NPR

    February 14, 2024 • In a Valentine's Day exclusive report, NPR has learned there is currently a gay anteater couple at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in...

  17. Media overload is hurting our mental health. Here are ways to manage

    In today's hypercompetitive and incessant news delivery ecosystem, slightly more than half of U.S. adults report that they get their news through social media "often" or "sometimes," according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted from August 31 to September 7, 2020.

  18. 6 key takeaways about the state of the news media in 2020

    July 27, 2021 6 key takeaways about the state of the news media in 2020 By Michael Barthel Every two years, Pew Research Center updates its series of fact sheets on the U.S. news media industry, tracking key audience and economic indicators for a variety of sectors. Here are some key findings about the state of the industry in 2020. How we did this

  19. Terrorists Are Paying for Check Marks on X, Report Says

    X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk, is potentially violating U.S. sanctions by accepting payments for subscription accounts from terrorist organizations and other groups barred from ...

  20. Graphic News latest infographics

    2023 U.S. military foreign sales up 56% on previous year. The U.S. government sold a record $81 billion worth of military equipment and services to foreign powers in 2023 - an increase of 56% on 2022, the U.S. State Department reports. CONFLICT.

  21. Trump campaign scrambles over abortion ban report as Democrats seize

    Biden's campaign and abortion rights advocates ripped into Trump on abortion Friday following a report that he has given private signals in favor of a national ban on abortions after 16 weeks of ...

  22. How to Create a Social Media Report [Free Template Included]

    A social media report is a document with an in-depth analysis of your social media performance over a specific period. Social media reports help you track your key performance indicators (KPIs), measure the success of your social media campaigns, and identify opportunities for optimization.

  23. Republicans and Democrats face a crisis of confidence

    Study finds public pension plans on shaky ground. New research calls attention to a huge funding gap and growing risk exposure, raising alarms about the long-term viability of government pensions.

  24. Inflation ran hotter than expected in January, complicating the Fed's

    The Fed raised its key rate 11 times, from March 2022 to July of last year, in a concerted drive to defeat high inflation. The result has been much higher borrowing rates for businesses and ...

  25. SEC clears Trump's social media deal worth as much as $10 billion

    The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission allowed Donald Trump's media and technology company to merge with a blank-check acquisition vehicle in a deal that currently values the parent of his ...

  26. How Americans Use Social Media

    TikTok sees growth since 2021 One platform - TikTok - stands out for growth of its user base. A third of U.S. adults (33%) say they use the video-based platform, up 12 percentage points from 2021 (21%). The other sites asked about had more modest or no growth over the past couple of years.

  27. Recent Bookings (Media Report)

    Recent Bookings (Media Report) This link contains a list of adult inmates that were booked into the Jail within the last 24 hours. It currently refreshes every day at approximately 6:00 a.m. This list is only supported during normal Outagamie County IT Department business hours from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you feel this list is not being ...

  28. New HHS Study Finds Nearly $124 Billion Positive Fiscal Impact of

    Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) published a groundbreaking report, The Fiscal Impact of Refugees and Asylees at The Federal, State and Local Levels From 2005-2019.This in-depth analysis examines the fiscal impact of refugees and asylees on the U.S. government and economy.

  29. Crime news: Latest news on crime, corruption, scandals, and criminal

    Trump Media merger gets green light from securities regulators Merger could provide new funding for Truth Social and give former President Trump a stake worth almost $4 billion. 2H ago