World Without News

Newsworks, Office of Ideologies, Map the Territory and Tapestry Research

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Together with Office of Ideologies, Map the Territory and Tapestry Research, Newsworks has launched a major new study ‘World Without News’ to explore the role of news brands in a contemporary landscape.

The research has revealed how the nation’s appreciation and value of journalism has increased significantly since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Against a backdrop of fake news, disinformation and attacks on free speech, 66% of news consumers said they “appreciate and value journalism more since the global coronavirus pandemic began”.

Encouragingly, the increase is most stark in the under 35-year-olds, with 77% valuing the work of journalists more now in providing reliable information and news.

Younger people are increasingly using trusted news brands to check what they see on social media. Although 42% of under 35-year-olds said they used social media more throughout the height of the pandemic, seven in ten of those said they felt less anxious about a story they had seen on social media once they had then checked it out via a news brand.

And 70% of all respondents agreed that a “world without journalism would harm democratic society” – nearly all those cited the work journalists do in “covering important topics and issues that might otherwise be overlooked” and are “important to society”.

The in-depth research also identified six goals that consuming news helps individuals to achieve including: connecting with others; calibrating the world around us; and, helping us, as individuals, to thrive.

Commenting on the launch of ‘World Without News’, Jo Allan, managing director at Newsworks, said: “This research clearly shows the importance of trusted news and information. Journalism matters to increasingly large numbers of people who are relying on news brands more than ever, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is our biggest study to date and what has emerged is the essential and growing role news plays in bringing us together, providing us with different perspectives and helping us to understand what is happening in the world around us.”

Spanning a total of nine months, across two periods – pre and post lockdown – the research began with semiotics analysis that decoded the different techniques 15 different news outlets used to cover five key news stories. Following this we conducted out a unique behavioural experiment that deprived regular readers from consuming news brands. Conversely, a group of non-news readers were asked to read a news brand every single day for the same four-day period. Finally, we looked to substantiate our findings via a 24-hour news diary amongst 1135 news consumers and nationally representative surveys in both February and August 2020.

Further highlights and insights from the research:

  • 70% agree you can trust newspapers to be on top of all the news stories at the time
  • 82% agree that newspapers bring you a variety of news, even stories you hadn’t previously heard of 
  • 83% agree that newspapers cover all aspects of the news, not just one particular type of news 
  • 80% agree newspapers are great at laying out everything to help you make sense of a story, issue or event 
  • Under 35-year-olds are more likely to change their opinion or behaviour after reading a news story

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