Old, Educated, and Politically Diverse: The Audience of Public Service News (Report)

In the current digital media age, how can PSM news expand their audience reach when younger audiences are getting their news from alternative sources and populist attitudes seem to be on the rise?

In their most recent report, the Reuters Institute investigate the reach of public media news using a sample of 8 countries. The report provides analysis and suggestions on how to confront growing challenges relating to audience reach, particularly in a climate where traditional media is in decline due to competition from digital media.

The report was launched during the Public Broadcasting International (PBI) Conference, held in Helsinki, Finland this year.

Front cover report
Credit: Reuters Institute

Dr Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, who worked in collaboration with Dr Anne Schulz and Dr David Levy, revealed some of the key findings from the report. This includes the notion that PSM news tends to reach older and more educated audiences, since younger people are increasingly consuming news from social media websites and other alternative sources. In this way, PSM is faced with the challenge of reaching audiences online in addition to their core, offline audiences who already watch traditional, linear broadcasting. Moreover, ‘while they are among the most widely trusted news sources, they are often less trusted by people on the political right and people with populist attitudes.’

With these issues at hand, the authors provide suggestions based on their analysis, such as aiming to be a more attractive competitor in a crowded media landscape as well as reviewing and utilising in innovative and creative ways in order to reach a wide variety of audiences, including using voice assistants and social media. Above all, the report emphasises the ‘urgency of a thorough reinvention of public service news delivery fit for a digital media.’