Irish news users are half as likely to pay for online journalism as their counterparts in Finland and Denmark an international study on news consumption has found.
The Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2015, a survey of online news consumption among over 23,000 people in 12 countries, found that just 7 per cent of the 1,500 Irish people who participated had paid for online news content in the year prior to the survey.
Although this was similar to Germany (7 per cent) and higher than the UK (6 per cent), the Irish figure was half that reported in Finland and Denmark where 14 per cent and 13 per cent of people respectively paid for online news content.
It notes that smartphones are becoming the “defining device” for online news. In Ireland 52 per cent of participants are now using their smartphones to access news while 32 per cent said it is the main way in which they access online news.
Although less than half of Irish people (46 per cent) said they were able to “trust most news most of the time” they expressed a greater level of trust in the news sources they used most with 57 per cent saying they trusted those sources.
In the week prior to the survey, carried out in January and February this year, 62 per cent of Irish people said they got news through TV bulletins and 54 per cent through newspaper websites or apps. Half said they sourced news from the radio with 49 per cent citing printed newspapers or social media as recent news sources.
When asked what the used as their main source of news 41 per cent said they accessed news online (including from websites, social media, apps and blogs) while 37 per cent cited television (both TV bulletins and 24-hour news channels) as their main news source.
When it came to online content Irish people were most likely to use a search engine as their starting point for finding news at 46 per cent.
A comparable figure - 44 per cent - said they accessed news stories by going directly to the news brand while 36 per cent said they came across news stories through social media.
The study, produced by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, has been running since 2012 but included an Irish sample for the first time this year.
This years’s survey included 23,557 participants in Ireland, the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Japan and Australia.
It shows that, across the 12 countries in which surveys were conducted, 18- to 24-year-olds were most likely to access news online and least likely to watch TV for news while the reverse was the case among people over the age of 55.
It found that publishers will find it increasingly difficult to make money given that there has been little increase in the number of people willing to pay for journalism.
It noted that consumers have expressed “significant” dissatisfaction with online advertising with a “rapid take up”of ad-blocker technology.
“Our research documents that 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,” Reuters Institute director of research Rasmus Kleis Nielsen said.
A separate piece of research carried out by the institute among readers of online news found that a third of UK participants and 43 per cent of those surveyed in the US felt “disappointed or deceived” after reading an article which turned out to be paid for by an advertiser.
The Reuters Institute concluded that, in blurring the lines between advertising and editorial, organisations could harm the credibility of their news brands.
It found many respondents considered content such as home and world news, politics and financial news “sacred” whereas consumers were more accepting of sponsored content in areas such as travel, food, fashion and entertainment.