The percentage of Canadians who closely follow the news declined by eight per cent from 2003 to 2013, according to a recent survey published by Statistics Canada, echoing similar findings from research out of the Florida-based Poynter Institute.
And though these reports show that viewership and readership for traditional media properties are down across the board, they’re mostly down for younger members of the population: According to the StatCan study, the percentage of those aged 15 to 34 who say they rarely or never follow the news doubled during the 10-year study period.
Indeed, news organizations have dealt with declining audiences and evaporating ad revenues for years, as the latest rounds of layoffs in Canada and the U.S. plainly shows.
And it probably comes as no surprise that much of that audience has been usurped by social media: Research from Poynter shows that social media has surpassed newspapers as a source of daily news for those under 30 in the U.S. The recent Reuters Digital News Report indicates that Facebook’s referrals to digital news sites was up 42 per cent worldwide in 2015.
The television, however, is still king among older consumers of news: Of Canadians 55 or older who only used one media source to stay informed, 71 per cent said they watched TV.
And according to the Pew survey, members of the Boomer and Silent generations who use TV for news hasn’t declined in the U.S. since the mid 1990s (with only relatively modest gains in terms of these generations adopting the Internet as a news source).
Part of the overall declining rate of media consumption, at least in the Canadian experience, may be directly related to trust: According to the StatCan survey, only around 40 per cent of Canadians indicated they had confidence in Canada’s news media (however, it should be noted this was higher than Canadians’ trust of both major corporations (30%) and the federal Parliament (38%) in the same survey).