Filipinos online get news mainly from social: study

Arlene Burgos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 01 2021 12:00 AM

MANILA -- Filipino audiences online get their news mainly from social media, setting them apart from other markets where citizens come across news directly from news websites or apps, or from portals that aggregate news from various sources.

This was from a study on news trends presented on Day 1, Monday evening (PH time), of a four-day worldwide virtual conference of news publishers. 

The Philippines was called a "mainly social" market where 51 percent said social media when asked the question, "Which of these was the 'main' way in which you came across news in the last week?" Coming at a far second was search at 24 percent, followed by mobile alerts at 10 percent. 

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Prof. Rasmus Nielsen, director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, presented the study as he spoke on "Business Barometer: The trends behind the trends" during the opening of the 72nd World News Media Congress. The topic tackled trends that may inform publishers' investment decisions as they weather pandemic and other challenges. 

On the same boat as the Philippines when it comes to sourcing news from social media are Brazil and Malaysia, Nielsen's presentation said. 

The three other "models of online access" are composed of countries that source directly from news websites or apps such as Hong Kong, Finland, and Norway; those from varied sources such as Australia, Canada, and the US; and Japan, whose people rely on aggregator sites for news. 

Worldwide, across ages and countries, a "large majority said they preferred to access online news via search (25 percent) or social media (26 percent)." But for the under-35 people, social media represented 34 percent preference. 

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Other areas where Filipinos engage

This Reuters study about the news audience in the Philippines is compatible with an earlier survey by a local youth group in partnership with the Social Weather Stations, which said more than half of Filipino youth engage in politics on social media, particularly on Facebook and Twitter.  

Earlier this year, Reuters released the 2021 Digital News Report that "looks at the impact of coronavirus on news consumption and on the economic prospects for publishers. It looks at progress on new paid online business models, trust and misinformation, local news, impartiality and fairness in news coverage." 

That study took a sample size of 2,029 people from the Philippines, whose population was estimated at 111 million, and with an Internet penetration of 78 percent - higher than usual local estimates, including a recent Pulse Asia survey which pegged it at 63 percent of the country's adult population. 

However, the same Pulse Asia survey, made Sept. 6 to 11, revealed 91 percent of the adult population said television was their main source of information. 

Findings such as these are important as Filipinos enter another 120-day election period that officially begins Jan. 9, 2022. These times, including the 80-plus days of official campaign period starting Feb. 8, 2022, have usually been marred by intense information or even disinformation campaigns. News sources are important because these could inform voter choices come election day, or on May 9, 2022. 

Elsewhere in the world...

The finding on the 4 "models of online access" presented by Nielsen was part of a larger set of findings that the Reuters Institute director presented during the news conference, among them a survey of 132 senior industry leaders from 42 countries on their sentiments on changing newsroom dynamics, needs and prospects given the lingering pandemic. 

That study spoke about hybrid working arrangements, publisher struggles on attracting and retaining technology and data skills which are in great demand elsewhere, and gender and ethnic diversity in newsrooms. 

Meanwhile, publishers are generally optimistic about their businesses, with almost half of those asked in a study saying their companies are in advanced stages of digital transformation efforts. 

Print, digital and advertising revenues remain important. But publishers expect nearly 21% of overall revenues to come from other sources within the next 12 months, said Damian Radcliffe, professor and fellow at the University of Oregon and Columbia University. Radcliffe presented the World Press Trends 2021-2022, which were from CEOs, publishers, media owners in 58 countries across 25 high-income and 23 developing economies. 

Press freedom abuses plague publishers, and this is not isolated to developing countries as cyber attacks, online harassment, and denial of access to information are prevalent in the developed world, Radcliffe said. 

The World News Media Congress is mounted by the World Association of News Publishers, the global organization of the world’s press. The annual event is attended by hundreds of news owners, executives, publishers, and journalists.