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Source: Reuters Institute 2015

This year’s survey underlines both the pace of change but also the increasing complexity of our media ecosystem. New global brands are emerging, there are new platforms for distributing and monetising the news, new devices for accessing it, and new formats to tell stories.

All of this is part of a fundamental shift away from the broadcast models of the past to ones where it is possible to deliver more relevant, more personal, more interactive news at any time and in any place.

And yet while our data suggest that this is becoming a reality for some, there are still many who continue to value traditional approaches. Most people still get their news from a combination of TV, radio, print, and online. Traditional news brands continue to dominate online in almost all the countries we studied, even if intermediaries are becoming far more important as a way of getting to those brands. It is also worth noting that even amongst our online sample about two in ten do not use internet news regularly (relying instead on broadcast and print). About one in three smartphone users do not use their phone for news, and around one in three Facebook users do not see social media as a source of news.

The reality is that most people over 45 are using digital news as an additional layer of choice and convenience without abandoning their core habits around television, radio, and print. Younger audiences who have grown up with digital are exhibiting very different behaviours and increasingly expect the news to come to them through online channels and in new formats.

The challenge for traditional media brands is how to manage this growing divergence in behaviour, along with the intense business pressures being thrown up by the second wave of disruption from mobile and social.

Print revenues are declining fast while only a minority is prepared to pay for news online. Mobile advertising is generating less than via desktop, video advertising is promising but nascent, while sponsorship and native options are throwing up new questions around trust and journalistic integrity.

Meanwhile Facebook and Google continue to build some of the world’s most profitable companies based on targeted advertising wrapped around relevant and interesting content.

Against this backdrop, news companies face another year of intense pressure and will have to be more inventive than ever with editorial and business strategies if they are to survive.

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