A world with news matters more, to more people

A world with news matters more, to more people

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Newsworks’ insight director Denise Turner presents ‘World Without News’, a new study that delves into the news ecosystem and reveals how advertisers can be present at the sweet spot where opinions are formed, and information is trusted

Imagine a world where news doesn’t exist. Frightening? Or bliss?

In order to gain a better understanding of how the nation values journalism, nine months ago we set out to explore what a world without news would look like.

To do this, we analysed different news sources, undertook a behavioural experiment depriving some people of and saturating others with news, carried out a quantitative survey and asked respondents to keep a 24-hour news diary.

To discover whether the coronavirus had an impact on people’s view of journalism, some of the steps were repeated after the height of lockdown.

What we discovered

Journalism matters increasingly to audiences, with 70% thinking a world without journalism would harm democracy. People strongly believe that journalists cover important issues that might otherwise be overlooked and are crucial in holding people in power to account.

But this isn’t what keeps people engaged with stories. We consume news in all of its forms because it helps us. By removing news from our participants, we were able to better understand what people miss when they don’t consume journalism and the goals consuming news help readers achieve. The six goals we identified were: orientate, survive, escape, thrive, calibrate and connect.

Due to the immersive nature of news across different platforms – with in depth opinions and trusted facts – news brands excel over TV, social media and all other sources when it comes to helping us form and change our opinions.

The three goals that set news brands apart

These are Calibrate, Connect and Thrive. Calibrate is a vital goal – 82% agree: “The news helps me to make sense of complex issues”.

Connect is also key – 80% feel that: “When you’re up to date with the news it’s easier to chat to other people.”

Thrive is about helping people to progress in life. 80% agree that: “Newspapers are great at laying out everything to help you make sense of a story, issue or event.

How did things change during Covid-19?

While these goals remained amazingly stable throughout the height of lockdown, it was in fact the overall value of news brands and their journalism that increased substantially.

The nation’s attitude towards journalism changed significantly since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic with 66% of people surveyed saying that they “appreciate and value journalism more since the global coronavirus pandemic began”.

And for the under-35s that number is over ten percentage points higher at 77%. Encouragingly, a new appreciation of journalism has grown among younger audiences. These impressive figures are also reflected in PAMCo’s readership numbers.

The strengths of news brands

We found that news brands don’t just present facts, they also provide analysis and opinion. 76% of people agree that “newspapers present the news in a structured way; they don’t just chuck random stories at you”.

Another finding was the appreciation of diverse opinions. News brands allow readers to be presented with a network of opinions each competing, arguing and debating but ultimately balancing one another. 65% of news consumers agree “I like to read different news brands so that I understand the different opinions” and 79% agree “I like that the news brands in the UK have a different opinion on the same news story”.

Trust in news brands also became apparent in our findings with 69% of news consumers agreeing that “news brands are a trusted record of news stories and events in a country” and 63% agreeing that “newspapers have a long history of being accurate and trusted with the news”

What does this mean for advertisers?

It’s too easy to think of news brands as the place to just inform or announce, at scale. Or as the place to reach certain demographics. However, to stop here is to miss the real value of news brands. They present an opportunity for brands to advertise in an environment where people are:

• Calibrating – open minded and in the process of making up or changing their minds.
• Connecting – participating, debating and discussing with others their ideas and information they have consumed.
• Thriving – learning new things to get ahead in the world.

News brands present an opportunity for brands to advertise in an environment where thinking happens and where new ideas are evaluated and understood. They offer advertisers a valuable opportunity to be present at the sweet spot where opinions are being formed and where information is trusted.

Newsworks, together with Mediatel, hosted an event last week where panellists and researchers came together to present, discuss and debate the findings of the ‘World Without News’. You can watch the event on catch up here.

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