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CULTURE | 17-06-2024 15:36

Report: Online video adding to challenges for news firms

Short videos from social media have become the main source of information for young people, Reuters Institute report warns.

The rise of online video news is making it increasingly hard for traditional news organisations to survive, according to a global survey published Monday. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to further reduce traffic to news websites and apps, said the Reuters Institute at Britain's University of Oxford as it released its annual Digital News Report. 

It said a major "platform reset" is underway, as tech innovations and changing consumer patterns have triggered changes in the way social media and search engines operate.

"Some are now explicitly deprioritising news and political content, while others have switched focus from publishers to 'creators,' and pushing more fun and engaging formats – including video – to keep more attention within their own platforms," the report said. 

Based on a survey of 95,000 people in 47 countries, it found that two-thirds of respondents watched short news items at least once a week. 

With 72 percent of those videos consumed on platforms like YouTube, it is hard for news organisations to benefit.

Only 22 percent of respondents said news websites and apps were their main source of news, down 10 percent on 2018.

"Videos are becoming a more important source of online information, especially among younger people," said the report.

Journalists are increasingly eclipsed by partisan commentators, influencers and celebrities, especially among young people on TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat, the report said. 

TikTok remains the most popular network “and the percentage of those using it to receive news has grown by 13 percent across all markets and 23 percent for those aged 18-24," the report explained.

It highlighted French YouTuber Hugo Decrypte, 27, who makes videos explaining politics for young audiences. With 5.8 million subscribers on TikTok, he gets more mentions across all platforms than Le Monde, Le Figaro, and Liberation combined.

Similar examples in other countries include Jack Kelly in Britain and Vitus Spehar in the United States. 

"Interest in the news has been falling, the proportion avoiding it has increased, trust remains low, and many consumers are feeling increasingly overwhelmed and confused by the amount of news," the report said. 

"Artificial intelligence may make this situation worse, by creating a flood of low-quality content and synthetic media of dubious provenance."

The big problem for traditional media is that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of video consumption takes place on social media platforms and networks, compared to only 22 percent on their original sites, raising doubts about their ability to generate revenue.

Growth in news via video and social media consumption is even greater "in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia," experts warned.

Figures from Peru showed 27 percent of users of all ages used TikTok as a news source, compared to three percent in Denmark.

Up to 85 percent of respondents in Peru watch short videos weekly for information, compared to 77 percent in Mexico and Colombia, 76 percent in Brazil, 75 percent in Chile and 66 percent in Argentina. In Spain it is 64 percent.

These figures fall, although not dramatically, among more developed countries: 60 percent in the United States, 57 percent in Canada, 45 percent in France, 49 percent in Germany.

"Consumers are embracing video because it is easy to access and offers a wide variety of content. But many traditional media are still anchored in a text-based culture and are struggling to adapt," says Nic Newman, the main author of the text.

"Argentina's new populist president, Javier Milei, has a successful TikTok account with 2.2 million followers," the text reminds us.

And Indonesia’s new president, Prabowo Subianto, who won a major election victory in February, used images generated by artificial intelligence in his online campaigning.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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