Industry News

Ofcom report ranks magazines as most favourable news platform

By Laura Rutkowski

30 Jul 2018

Magazines are rated more favourably than any other news platform for quality, accuracy, trustworthiness and impartiality, according to Ofcom’s "News Consumption in the UK: 2018” research report.

Ofcom’s, the UK’s communications regulator, report looks at how adults and 12-15-year-olds in the UK consume news across television, newspapers, radio, social media, other internet sources and magazines.

Participants rated sources based on statements and ranked magazines the highest across the board for the following: “is important to me personally” (78%), “is high quality” (82%), “is accurate” (83%), “is trustworthy” (80%), “is impartial” (77%), “offers a range of opinions” (79%), “helps me make up my mind” (80%), “helps me understand what’s going on in the world today” (84%) and “has a depth of analysis and content not available elsewhere” (84%).

Social media was the lowest-ranking news platform based on these statements.

One in ten (11%) adults reported consuming news via magazines. One in six cited Time, The Week, The Economist and Private Eye as popular reading material.

In a society that is constantly plugged in, magazines have to work harder to capture people’s attention. UK adults said they use an average of 6.7 individual sources for news.

Ofcom’s Chief Executive Sharon White expanded: “People feel there is more news than ever before, which presents a challenge for their time and attention. This, combined with ‘fear of missing out’, means many feel compelled to engage with several sources of news, but only have the capacity to do so superficially.”

Enter JOMO, the joy of missing out, which counters FOMO. JOMO encourages us to take time out for ourselves to switch off and press pause.

As Dan Frommer, Editor-in-Chief of Recode told The New York Times, “Tech companies have spent the last 10, 20 years building internet and mobile products that are addictive on purpose.

“There is a threshold where utility becomes addiction, and I think it’s safe to say a lot of the most popular products today have taken it too far.”

With many of us consuming news through social media on our smartphones, we are hit with a barrage of news, interspersed with other types of content. White continues, “This limits our ability to process, or even recognise, the news we see. It means we often engage with it incidentally, rather than actively.”

Qualitative research conducted by Ofcom explored people’s relationships with online news. It showed that after being exposed to news stories online, many participants had no conscious recollection of them. One participant recalled seeing nine news stories online over the course of a week, but she had actually viewed 13 in one day. Others remembered reading particular articles, but couldn’t recall any of the detail.

In an era of fake news, it is no wonder that people are more likely to doubt the news they see on social media platforms. Only 39% of participants considered social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared to 63% for newspapers, 70% for television and 80% for magazines.

YouGov research from 2013 found that more than six in ten (63%) UK adults read magazines. The “Magazine Consumption” report showed that 44% of adults buy and read printed magazines. Over one in ten regularly (11%) read online magazines.

While the figures will need updating, it is encouraging to note that more than two-fifths (43%) of magazine buyers preferred print to digital, 42% liked the look and feel of printed magazines and a third (33%) chose print publications because they found them more convenient. Just over one in 20 (6%) read more online magazines that print titles.

This research ties into Ofcom’s finding that magazines are rated more favourably than any other news platform for quality, accuracy, trustworthiness and impartiality. The YouGov research found that over half (51%) of consumers believed exclusive content makes a magazine good value for money, with other important factors listed as in-depth content (46%), relevance to their interests (42%) and articles that provide good practical advice (37%).

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