Reuters International just released their Digital News Report 2018 which reveals insights about digital news consumption based on a survey of over 74,000 online news consumers in 27 countries including Singapore. The report focuses on issues of trust and misinformation, new online business models, the rise of new platforms and messaging apps.
Reuters says in the report that the results show ‘signs of hope’ for the news industry.
It’s all online now
The survey showed that the use of social media has started to fall in a number of key markets such as the US, UK, and France due to a specific decline in the discovery, posting, and sharing of news on Facebook. Singapore however, showed an increase in the use of social media as a source of news coming in at 63%, up two points from last year.
According to Reuters, digital news sites and social media continue to serve as Singapore’s primary source of news with 75% of the population accessing news through their smartphones. Among social media platform in Singapore, WhatsApp gained ground with 42% saying they use it for news while Facebook is still a dominant player at 52% even though it showed a 3% drop from last year. Also popular is Telegram (19%) which the report notes is ‘particularly popular in more authoritarian countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
As more and more online media move towards a subscription/membership system, Reuters noted that 16% of respondents from Singapore say they pay for online news while 25% say they use an adblock. In terms of engagement, people in Singapore preferred to just share news via social media or email (47%) rather than commenting on news online (17%).
Singapore trust MediaCorp for news
The report also looked at new brands that were most trusted in Singapore. Amidst concerns about the spread of ‘fake news’ and misinformation, Reuter’s notes that the people of Singapore showed a 47% trust in news, a slight increase from last year’s 42%. In contrast, only one fifth (20%) said they trust the news on social media.
In terms of trust in particular new sources, coming up tied for most trusted news brands are BBC News and Channel NewsAsia with a score of 7.18/10 each. These are closely followed by Channel 5 News (7.03) and The Straits Time (7.01). Of the top 10 most trusted brands, four were owned by MediaCorp.
As for independent sites, TNP comes in at a score of 6.22, Mothership at 5.24, TOC at 5.16, and All Singapore Stuff at 5.1 – all making into the top 15 most trusted news sites in Singapore.
The report notes that while consumers seem to be put off by toxic debate and unreliable news, the numbers show that they are also finding that alternative news networks offer more convenience, greater privacy, and less opportunity to be misunderstood.
As CNA is one of the most trusted brands in Singapore, it’s not surprise that it is also the most used news site online (46%) closely followed by Straits Times (45%). News aggregator Yahoo! News comes third (36%). Today is ranked fourth (26%) followed by the alternative site Mothership (23%). BBC News online is ranked sixth (20%) followed by STOMP (19%), a user-generated content site run by The Straits Times.
Compared to other countries in the Asia Pacific region that Reuters looked at, Singapore ranked second for overall trust in news with 47% saying they trusted the news. First is Australia with 50%. Northern neighbours Malaysia came in at only 30%. Other countries that were assessed include Hong Kong (45%0 Japan (43%), Taiwan (32%) and South Korea (25%).
It’s probably safe to say that in the region, there is relatively high trust in media in Singapore – at the very least significantly more than Malaysia.