Social Media Is the Main Gateway to Online News

Jun 18, 2024
Social Media Is the Main Gateway to Online News

The fact that online news has overtaken print media and television as the number 1 news source for many people over the past decade shouldn’t be news to anyone. According to the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report 2024, 77 percent of the more than 90,000 respondents surveyed across 47 countries this year get their news online, compared to 55 percent who watch the news on TV and 19 percent who still read printed news.

Within the large proportion of online news consumers, there has been a shift in online news consumption, however, as social media platforms play an increasingly important role, not only as a news source but also as a general gateway to online news. While direct access to news websites or apps used to be the most common entry point for online news consumption in 2018, it is now only the third most important gateway to online news, behind search and social media.

While the shift to social media as people’s main gateway to news has its advantages, as it has the potential to spread news more quickly and make them more accessible and personalized, it also has major downsides, as news are no longer curated by editors but by algorithms who are usually trained to value engagement over accuracy. This way sensationalism tends to win over substance, making it harder for people to get a balanced view of certain topics. Moreover, social media tends to create “echo chambers” that reinforce people’s views and biases, as users are usually served what algorithms know will appeal to them, which is fine when it comes to entertainment but potentially dangerous when it comes to politics and news.

For publishers, the decrease in direct access to news websites and apps is a worrying trend, as it makes them more vulnerable to platform shifts. The latest rise of AI tools could become such a platform shift. In the future, people could simply ask AI chatbots to give them the latest news on topic XYZ, which would pose a major threat to publishers’ traffic, potentially making it harder for to sell ads or subscriptions.

Source: Statista