This report is part of a long-running international survey coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, an international research centre in the comparative study of journalism based at Oxford University. This is the eighth edition of the report.
This year’s report contains positive signs for the Australian news industry. After years of stagnation, paying for news has increased and access to news remains steady. Print news consumption has risen for the first time in six years, and the use of regional and local newspapers is up as well. Trusted traditional and public service broadcasters remain the most popular sources of news and there continues to be a strong audience appreciation for journalistic values of impartiality and independence.
As Australians continue to grapple with the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, the concern about climate change has fallen, and consumers remain politically divided over how the news media should report on it. While audiences here are not as polarised as in other countries, many are cynical about news media organisations and believe they are putting their political and commercial interests ahead of the needs of society. This impacts on their trust in the news. The number of Australians avoiding news is growing, many of them because of news fatigue.
This year’s findings highlight the importance and popularity of local news to Australian consumers. The survey also reveals that Australian news consumers are motivated by curiosity and a sense of duty to stay informed, rather than seeing news as fun. We are also becoming more cautious about getting news from social media platforms, which bucks the global trend of people increasingly relying on social media for news. This is partly driven by Australians’ heightened concerns about and experiences of online misinformation, particularly about COVID-19.