Hawkesbury Gazette

Trends in news consumption: A look into social media sites

Picture by Shutterstock
Picture by Shutterstock

This is branded content.

There is a reason that people are on their phones all the time.

The digital world is the base of operations for all of our necessities. We have timetables, reminders, business and social contacts, email, internet, music, movies and more, all at our fingertips.

The entire world is in our pocket.

Although the case can be made that social media is causing long-standing changes within our brains, there are few more effective ways to get the message out than on social media. There's a reason that social media marketing is so successful.

Everyone is on it. It doesn't take a Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics to understand that.

Yet as much as social media is great for spreading the word, recent trends in people relying on social media for their news can have large repercussions for how we interact with our news media.

Today, we will be examining social media trends (particularly in Australia) and how these trends affect the public's news consumption habits.

Changes in programming

The days of everyone gathering around the TV after work and school as they awaited the evening's entertainment are long, long gone.

According to a recent study fewer people are getting their news from the television, with reliance and trust placed in digital, often independent sources.

While 96 per cent of Australians aged 14 and up are still interested in news and engage in it every month, the emphasis on specific digital and print news media, rather than generalist or breaking news is huge; with 57 per cent of consumers engaging in digital news or print news subscriptions.

Perhaps most surprising, especially against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, is that there has been a 5 per cent increase in the number of people willing to pay for online news, rising from 17 per cent in 2022 to 22 per cent in 2023.

Furthermore, there are rising trends in how news is engaged with and shared over social media. Around 32 per cent of shared news articles are done through Facebook alone, with an additional 23 per cent shared through YouTube, and 14 per cent through Instagram.

It seems that the trends facing the Australian news industry are as follows:

  • Digital and print media are on the rise.
  • More people are willing to pay for news.
  • Social media is a steadily growing method of sharing news.

This just in

The switch comes after people realised due to a royal commission launched by ex-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, that the Rupert Murdoch media empire controls around 70 per cent of Australia's news media.

The Royal Commission, established three years ago, was formed for the purpose of investigating the practices and reach of the Murdoch media conglomerate.

It was a significant undertaking, as it showed millions of Australians something that many of them were not aware of - their media was in the grip of a monopoly.

If you've ever played the titular board game, you understand why a monopoly is bad for the people not within it.

A monopoly happens when a single business entity controls the operations and concerns of a majority of a certain industry. As stated earlier, the Murdoch media force controls 70 per cent of Australia's media, meaning that one entity has full control over the voice of that media.

Essentially, the biases and support of the news were down to the personal opinions and preferences of one man.

Although this was the beginning of Australia's new-found distrust in the mass-produced news media, it certainly wasn't the end. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, bushfires ravaged our country, and conspiracy theories proliferated, people's trust in the news and the government decreased by several points.

It seems that despite the cost of living crisis, people deem trustworthy, relevant journalism to be an expense worth paying for, as the number of people subscribing to news sources, and finding alternate news sources through social media, increases steadily.

Picture by Shutterstock
Picture by Shutterstock

Also, it's free

Perhaps the biggest appeal of social media sites like Facebook, X (formally Twitter), Instagram, and TikTok as sources of news and current events, is that they are free.

Despite the rise of people paying for subscription news services, against the setting of a cost of living crisis, any benefits that can be found for free are more welcome than ever before.

Aside from this, many independent journalism companies publish online, making their articles accessible via these social media platforms.

This means that news is easier than ever to share, and is often filtered to content relevant to the audience profile that it engages with.

So where's the story?

If you're one of the hundreds of thousands of Aussies looking for more trustworthy news sources, you're in luck.

The digital landscape has facilitated online journalism and there's probably no better time than right now to switch to independent journalists if you're thinking of following suit and making the switch.

As always, Australians are most trustworthy of the ABC and SBS as their broadcast news sources.

The ABS is the national broadcaster and covers a range of topics over a range of media, and the SBS news is noted for its vast array of multilingual content channels, catering in a very unique fashion to Australia's heavily multicultural demographic.

Trust in these sources remains as steadfast as it has ever been.

However, if you desire truly independent journalistic perspectives, then finding your next great source is as easy as googling what platforms most news-oriented Aussies are switching to.

After a senate enquiry into Australia's Media Diversity in 2021, the time has never been better to switch your primary source of information on current events, and doing so has possibly never been more important.

As a climate crisis looms on the horizon, the cost of living soars, and our major media networks are plagued by bias and misinformation, having the right news that is thoroughly researched and fact-checked has never been more relevant.

Coupled with the internet and social media's ease of access, there's never been a better way to keep your finger on the pulse of anything concerning you.