New models emerging from the wreckage of digital disruption

The 2017 Digital News Report offers some glimmers of hope that the news industry in Europe is beginning to move forward with new approaches and fresh thinking.

This year’s Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, published today (22 June), is full of the usual concerns about fake news, failing business models, and the growing power of platforms.

In many ways, the headline figures around news have got even worse in the last 12 months, with low trust and high levels of news avoidance, combined with staff cutbacks in commercial and public service media, that suggest we may be locked into a destructive and downward spiral of confidence in the news.

And yet, there are signs that we may have reached the bottom. Lying behind these bleak quotes and statistics is a growing recognition from publishers, platforms and consumers that something ‘must be done’ to restore trust, confidence and fortune.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post have been leading this charge in the United States, where we have seen a significant uptick in consumers prepared to pay for online news (up 7 percentage points from last year). The level of donations to news organisations has also tripled, albeit from a low base. Almost a third of those paying (29 per cent) say they have done it to help support journalism, more than double the all-country average.

Even more surprisingly, much of the growth has come from under 35s, a group that has already shown itself prepared to dig into its pocket for other online media through services like Netflix and Spotify.

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