Weird news is wonderful

A global study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism suggests ‘fun’ items rival celebrity gossip for younger readers

Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 01:00

The consumption of “fun or weird” news is “more popular than traditional celebrity stories in the lives of many consumers”, according to the Digital News Report 2014 by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

The report, which is in its third year, has found that 24 per cent of men aged between 18-24 and 36 per cent of women who are between 18-24 identify “fun or weird” as one of their five most important types of news.

“In many countries, there has traditionally been an amusing item at the end of a news bulletin or included prominently within a print newspaper but, in the digital age, this type of news has blossomed,” the Reuters Institute observes, citing the advent of animated gifs and “listicles”.

Unlike “entertainment and celebrity” news, fun/weird news is appreciated by both men and women, the survey of almost 19,000 people from 10 countries has found.

Only 11 per cent of men aged 18-24 identified the entertainment and celebrity category within their top five, compared to 31 per cent of 18-24-year-old women.

Entertainment and celebrity news had greater or similar levels of appeal to women in all older age groups than fun/weird news.

But the fun/weird category, which the study has included this year for the first time, was more likely to be cited by men of all age groups as a type of news that was important to them.

The report does not attempt to measure interest in weird stories about celebrities or, indeed, stories that concern weird celebrities.