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Research reveals mobile news consumption is on the rise but trust in news platforms continues to decrease

New research shows that Brits remain glued to their phones, and news consumption via mobile and social media is on the rise. When looking for the latest news updates, two-fifths of UK adults do so mostly on their phones (39%). The majority of adults in the UK check the news at least twice a day (55%), with a further quarter checking at least once a day (25%) – an increase from 2022. Politics (54%), sports (33%), and tech (26%) remain to be the most popular topics; however, the consumption of political news has decreased by 4% from 2022.

Tickaroo commissioned strategic insight agency Opinium to survey 2,000 UK adults about their news consumption habits. It revealed an increase in news being consumed on mobile, a reduction in attention spans with shorter-form content preferred and a decrease in political news consumption.

More than two in five adults turn to a UK-based news website first to find out more about a big breaking story (45%), with a quarter turning to TV (24%) and one in five heading to social media (21%). UK-based news websites such as BBC News are the main source for the UK’s news (37%), followed by TV (27%) and social media (14%). Unsurprisingly, social media nearly doubles for younger age groups, with over a quarter of those aged 18-34 saying social media is their prime source (24%), with only one in six of this age group turning to TV news (16%) – a strong indicator that Brits are increasingly turning to mobile and social media as a key news source.

Although news consumption is on the rise, Brits’ attention spans are continuing to decrease, with a fifth of readers spending less than two minutes reading (21%) a news article. Compared to previous YoY data, the average ideal length of an article has decreased from 368 words to 346 words, with a quarter of UK adults preferring an article to be 100-299 words long (24%) – further nodding towards widespread decreased attention spans. However, a third of respondents prefer TV news bulletin style news reporting (33%) – this is a generation preference, as those aged 18-34 have more diverse preferences, with the most preferred being short live news updates (26%).

With journalists and publishers around the world working to curb fake news, currently, three in ten Brits don’t trust the news very much (31%), but most trust it a fair amount, perhaps retaining some scepticism (55%), and fewer than one in ten trusts the news a great deal (8%). Both trust and doubt are higher amongst those aged 18-34 compared to those aged 55+ (14% v 5% trust a great deal, 35% v 29% don’t trust very much).

The reasons for not trusting the news are varied. The most common reason to distrust was the perception that journalists create spin (43%), followed shortly by misreporting (42%), and a third were concerned about fake news (34%).

When looking at general attitudes and opinions of the news, most said they don’t believe everything they read in the news (60%), that they are concerned about fake news (66%), that they think fake news can impact political decisions (65%), that it can even impact political elections (69%), and that news outlets only report on stories about problems and issues, and that they don’t report in resolutions (51% each).

The news makes different groups of UK consumers feel varying levels of positivity and negativity after watching or reading. Younger audiences are the most likely to feel positive after watching or reading news, with nearly a third saying so (32%), and only just over a third saying they feel negative (36%). Those aged 55+ were most likely to feel negative, with 52% saying so.

Commenting on the survey findings, Tickaroo’s CEO and Co-founder, Naomi Owusu, said:

“This research is a strong indicator that consumers are increasingly turning to their phones and social media sites for the latest news updates. Publishers and content creators need to continue to adapt to evolving media habits to deliver authentic, relevant content for their target audiences. However, they are challenged by the lack of trust consumers have who are hypersensitive to fake news. It is important for content creators to find ways to show the validity of their news stories using new reporting methods like live blogging to support their efforts.”