Social media transforming how people get the news

The third in the CMRC’s series of reports on the news landscape in Canada reveals the dramatic impact that Facebook, Twitter and other social media services are having on the news diet of Canadians.

Our report, Social Networks Transforming How Canadians Get the News (PDF), suggests that many people now expect the news to come to them, filtered by family, friends and acquantances rather than only by professional journalists.

We found that 43% of social media users get their daily news via recommendations from friends and family on sites like Facebook: the equivalent of 6.5m Canadians.

This compares to 66% of of all news consumers who turn to newspaper websites, 52% to TV news websites and 33% to  radio news website.

The idea of news as a social experience is important for online Canadians. Close to two-thirds say they value being able to easily share content with others. For young Canadians, the figure rises to 83%.

The dissemination of news through social interaction has always affected the spread of news. But networked digital media technologies are extending the ability of news consumers to both create and receive personalized social news streams. The trend is, unsurprisingly, most prevalent among the young.

Our key findings:

  • More than two-thirds of Canadians who use social networking sites value them as a way of keeping up with the news.
  • More than half of Canadians on social networks say they get a broader range of news and information from them than if they just relied on traditional media.
  • One in three Canadians overall value social networks as a source for news, with the figure rising to one in two for young adults.
  • But only one in four consider information from social networks as reliable.
  • Canadians on social media are twice as likely to get their news from friends and family on social networks such as Facebook than from news organizations or journalists they follow.
  • Twitter is emerging as a news source: one in five Canadians on social media get their news from friends and family on Twitter, compared to one in 10 from news organizations or journalists.

I was the lead author on the Canadian Media Research Consortium report. It is based on an online survey of a representative national sample of 1,682 adults conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion.

The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results were statistically weighted according to the most current Statistics Canada data on age, gender, region, and education to ensure a representative sample.


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