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Publishers losing pace as news consumption grows on social networks

In the lives of many consumers, social networks have begun to replace traditional news outlets as their primary source of news, making it much more difficult for publishers who still rely on a more traditional business model to earn revenue from their stories.

In its annual report on digital news, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) highlights the rise of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and how they transformed the way news media is consumed today. The institute conducted a study across 26 countries that found that over 50 per cent of all the Internet users turned to social media to get their news.

In the UK and Canada, the news organisation responsible for publishing the original story is “clearly noticed” less than half of the time when it is read on social media as opposed to on its own website. In Japan and South Korea, the news organisation that wrote the original article is only noticed around a quarter of the time by readers.

Rasmus Kleeis Nielsen, the director of research at the RISJ elaborated on the bind that traditional news media is in and how it will challenging for many news outlets, saying: “The move towards a more distributed environment offers publishers opportunities to reach new audiences on an unprecedented scale. But as people increasingly access news via third party platforms, it will become harder and harder for most publishers to stand out from the crowd, connect directly with users, and make money. This development will leave some winners and many losers.”

Of all the social networks that exist today, Facebook is the most dominant social media news source and 44 per cent of those who were surveyed claiming to use the website to find, read, watch, share or comment on news they read online each week. RISJ's survey found that the use of mobile phones to find and consume news has increased significantly over the past two years going from 37 per cent in 2014 all the way up to 53 per cent currently.

Consumers are still reluctant to pay for online news though with no English-country having a payment rate higher than 10 per cent. The advertising systems and methods that news outlets currently use are unsustainable and if they want to remain competitive a great deal of change concerning how they deliver their news will need to occur.

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After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.