News Consumption: Fresh, Relevant and Local
In this article, we focus on TV consumption. Namely, we are interested in finding out Romanians' interest in news. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 1003 respondents, with a plus or minus 3% margin of error. The survey was active between 10 and 12 of October 2017. Our findings are presented below.
According to the Digital News Report , the Romanian news environment is defined by intense competition for television and online audiences, sustained by understaffed newsrooms that struggle for financial survival. After the financial crises of 2008–9, when the market was highly affected, it now shows signs of recovery, especially for TV and internet. The advertising budgets per capita, however, are still around 40% lower when compared to the period before the crisis, making it hard for Romanian newsrooms to compete. Moreover, the report suggests that print circulations and advertising budgets continue to fall, while the online consumption continues to grow. The ‘good news’ is that independent newsrooms that publish narrative and immersive journalism, fact-checking pieces, and investigations receive support from their readers who make direct donations or redirect part of their income taxes for the foundations and associations independent journalists created to support their work. The ‘bad news’ is that new media contributes to independent newsrooms that could lead to the mechanization of copy-paste journalism. In this manner, the increased speed of production and dissemination of information, the predominant focus on breaking news and content diversity, has had a detrimental effect on quality with factual and other errors committed even by good-quality online media.
According to Statista, the percentage of individuals in Romania who used the internet to read online news sites, newspapers or news magazines from 2013 to 2016 has grown. In 2016, 38% of all individuals used the internet in this way, but usage was higher among those who used the internet within the last three months, at 63%.
Although Freedom House offered a score of 38 out 100 regarding the freedom of the press, claiming it is ‘partially free’, the industry places numerous challenges. Below, we present some key findings on TV consumption, as well as news consumption.
Asked what type of content they usually watch on TV, most said they prefer movies or series, national and international news as well as documentaries. People’s interest in soap operas or religious channels is generally lower, reality shows and sports represent other types of content that keep viewer’s interest high.
Out of those who said they watch national and international news (N=704), most people are interested in local news, followed by political and science and health news. News on technology and entertainment enjoy the lesser attention to the overall sample, but higher penetration for the youngsters (18-24). Also, the international news seems to be of lesser interest. This trend was portrayed by Nielsen, suggesting that local news holds a prominent and important place in people's lives, with more viewers than ever tuning in to get information that affects their daily lives in their communities.
Asked on what channels people get their daily news; besides the TV, the new media plays an important role: social networks and news sites/blogs are at the top. However, some get their news from the radio (44.9%) or the written press (21.2%). Only a few get informed from friends and family, most probably by discussing news on WhatsApp or Facebook. This finding is in line with the Digital News Report key highlights, suggesting the audiences’ heavy reliance on online news consumption (87%) and on social media for information tips (69% for Facebook).
The top devices people use when reading news are the smartphone (73.6%), the laptop (49.9%) and the computer (45.5%). The tablet is used to a lesser degree (24.8%) in this situation.
Top three attributes that people search for when they are watching, reading or listening to news are their freshness (up-to-date), their relevance (especially at the individual level) and their usefulness. This highlights people’s interest in the local news, as well as the fact that, from respondents’ point of view, news stories (one of the most followed programs both on TV and radio) should mainly present accurate and up-to-date information, should present solutions when they rise problems and should not be controlled by political interests. See more on this issue platform here.
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