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Australian women prefer to consume their media through social channels

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Australian women, and young women in particular, are turning off mainstream news companies and are less likely to pay for traditional news services.

The annual Digital News Report Australia – produced by the News & Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra – provides an in-depth analysis of the state of news consumption in Australia. It is part of a global research project involving 38 countries co-ordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

Issued today, it shows a gender ‘paying gap’ where 10 per cent of women pay for online news compared with 17 per cent of men. While women are less likely to be highly interested in new than men (51 per cent compared with 65 per cent), and do not consider themselves heavy news consumers (43 per cent compared with 62 per cent) they are just as likely to be heavy internet users as men (91 per cent compared with 90 per cent).

In fact, a higher proportion of women access news via their mobile phones than men (51 per cent compared with 39 per cent).

For women, Facebook is their main source of information (40 per cent of women use it compared with 33 per cent of men). Men prefer Twitter and Youtube.

Generational differences can be seen in all aspects of news consumption, most starkly in the use of social media. Almost half, or 47 per cent, of generation Z (post-millennials) use social media as their main source of news, and about one-third, or 33 per cent, of generation Y (25-39-year-olds). Older generations continue to rely on traditional offline sources of news.

Click to enlarge.

Digital News Report Australia Project leader, Dr Caroline Fisher said this year’s report offers good and bad news for the Australian news media. “On the downside, interest in news has fallen and the percentage of people prepared to pay for it remains low. There is also a perception among many that the news is too negative and more people are avoiding it.”

She noted the gender divide in news consumption continued to widen, with women more likely to consume news which was “relevant to her life” through social media channels such as Facebook.

“Women do consume media differently to men. They want news that is going to reflect their lives and be relevant for them and important to them, and the research suggests they are less interested in news and in politics than men.

“Some of that may be due to attention economy issues – women being pressed for time and interested in other things – so not having as much time to invest in general news and more likely to get their news in a social context where they are also keeping in touch with friends and family.

“But clearly women are less engaged in the traditional news model for whatever reason – particularly young women and this presents an issue for those traditional news models.”

To read the entire Digital News Report: Australia 2019, click here

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