Fake news a worry for two-thirds of consumers

Nearly two-thirds of Irish news consumers are concerned about fake news on the internet, according to a major international survey.

Reuters Institute Digital News Report included Ireland in its findings for a fifth year in a row. It now covers 38 countries across the world.

The survey found that:

  • Some 61% of Irish media consumers are concerned about what is real and what is fake on the internet — up four percentage points on last year;
  • 26% of Irish news consumers made a decision not to share a news story in the last year because they doubted its accuracy;
  • 22% of respondents had stopped using certain news sources because they were unsure about the accuracy of their reporting;
  • Irish media achieved the highest rating for helping Irish news consumers understanding the news of the day (59%) — 11 percentage points higher than the European average of 48%;
  • 69% of Irish people aged 18 to 24 -year-olds were concerned about what is real and what is fake on the internet. However, this age group is also among the least interested in news and politics. 45% of this demographic said they were very or extremely interested in news, and 26% said they were interested in politics;
  • Just 12% of Irish adults pay for news through subscriptions, donations, and once-off payments. Of those who do pay, the majority 51% only have one subscription;
  • The 25-34-year age group was most likely to pay for online news (19%) and the 55-64-year age group was least likely to do so (7%);
  • Ireland continues to lead the survey in podcast consumption: 37% of Irish respondents said they listened to a podcast in the last month. The EU average was 33%.

The data for the research was collected between January and February 2019, reflecting the same data collection time frame for previous years, and was weighted to targets based on census/industry-accepted data.

The Irish sample size was 2,013 respondents. Sample sizes in each country were assembled using nationally representative quotas for age, gender, region and education. In total, 75,749 adults across the 38 countries responded to the survey.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland funded Ireland’s inclusion in the report.

BAI chief executive Michael O’Keeffe said the rapid pace at which technology continues to change the media landscape “presents particular challenges to those charged with ensuring that the regulatory environment remains appropriate”.

Over the past five years, the BAI has invested in the Reuters Digital News Report, ensuring that Ireland is included in this international study.

"This investment has proved invaluable in providing timely insights into news consumption trends internationally and facilitates Irish comparisons,” he said.

The BAI has commissioned the Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo) at Dublin City University to produce a specific report on the Irish results of the survey for the last five years.

FuJo director Dr Jane Suiter said access to quality journalism is “essential to a functioning democracy”.

“While there is a very slow increase in the numbers of Irish people willing to pay for news online, overall, Irish people’s interest in news remains consistently high and their questioning of the veracity of news sources is encouraging, but needs to increase,” she said.

“Quality journalism is important to a cohesive society and in this turbulent time, news providers must continue to champion the idea that quality online news is a necessity, rather than a luxury,” Dr Suiter said.

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