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Digital news report: Australia 2021 20.06 MB

The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for credible and fast news. In the early days, news consumption increased as the public tried to make sense of the rapidly evolving crisis. Despite the surge in demand, news organisations experienced a substantial hit to revenues, which led to the closure or suspension of many local newspapers across Australia. The pandemic has accelerated the industry’s decades-long struggle to replace falling advertising income.

The global data show there is no consistent pattern in COVID-19’s impact on news consumers. In Australia, 57% say their lives have been impacted by the pandemic, the lowest out of the 46 countries surveyed.

However, this year’s report reveals the rapid increase in news consumption by Australians at the start of the pandemic has not been maintained. The proportion of people paying for it has not increased, and interest in news has declined since 2020.

The report also finds that Australians have become more trusting of news in general but concern about misinformation remains high. However, many Australians lack adequate levels of media literacy to identify it and are unaware of the financial difficulty facing the news industry.

Key findings:

  • Trust in news increased globally over the past 12 months. In Australia, trust in news has risen (+5) to 43%, close to the global average (44%).
  • Australians’ interest in news dropped during the pandemic in line with other countries. Interest in the news has been consistently declining among Australian audiences.
  • General concern about false and misleading information online in Australia is high (64%), and much higher than the global average (56%).
  • Women, younger generations and those with low income are less likely to see themselves or their views as being fairly or sufficiently reflected in the news.
  • The majority of Australians (66%) are either unaware that commercial news organisations are less profitable than they were 10 years ago, or they don’t know about the current financial state of the news media.
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