Social media, smartphones threaten online news providers

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Social media’s growing influence and the rise in the use of smartphones as the main device for accessing online news could result to an uncertain financial future for news providers, said the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) in a report.

In its annual Digital News Report, RISJ noted that most news outlets are finding it hard to profit from smartphone content as more people find news through social media and search engines rather than on the news websites’ front pages.

“Most people like news and use news, but they don’t want to pay for it, don’t want to see advertising around it, and don’t want to see it mixed up with sponsored content,” said Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, research director of RISJ.

In fact, only the most loyal smartphone users make use of news apps to read online news; others rely on email, messaging apps, mobile notifications, and social media.

The think tank revealed that four out of ten smartphone customers use Facebook to read, find, share, comment on, and watch news every week. This is more than double such usage of Youtube and almost four times that of Twitter.

While most smartphone users lauded social media for bringing stories to their attention that they would not have read otherwise, they still have reservations when it comes to the reliability and accuracy of the news found on such sites, said RISJ.

Meanwhile, the report found that smartphone users are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with banners and pop-up advertisements. As such, more than four out of every ten smartphone users in Britain and the US regularly resort to ad-blocking software.

A third of smartphone users felt deceived or disappointed after reading a story they later discovered had been sponsored.


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