Audiences adapting to digital

News &

[Vancouver, June 16, 2021] While there are signs of declining interest and increasing cynicism among audiences, more Canadians appear to be consuming news via digital platforms, two new Canadian Media Research Consortium (CMRC) studies reveal. And it appears that a preference for quality content may be compelling them to go online.


In a survey on audience attitudes toward the media entitled The Credibility Gap, interest in the news has declined slightly in the past five years. Only about half of Canadian adults now say they are “very interested” in keeping up with the news, while only about one-third of those under 35-years-old say the same.


There is a decline in interest across all media, but it is encouraging to note that 45.9 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 25 believe the internet is a very important source of news. In fact, nearly one-third of all Canadians who go online for news have stopped using other traditional media sources in the past year. And although 16 per cent left traditional media for reasons of convenience, 24 per cent left for lack of trust.


A lack of audience trust is prevalent in Canadian media. Only one-third of Canadians believe the news is usually fair and balanced, and at least half of them think it is becoming more of a problem. A majority of them agree that political bias is common in the news; yet, oddly enough, a majority of respondents say they do not mistrust news reports that include the reporters’ opinions.      

Another CMRC survey, Online Canadians and News, shows that Canadians consume an average of 2.3 hours of news and information per day. Consumers spend 24 per cent of their time watching television, while spending 22 per cent of their time consulting both the internet and newspapers.

The survey reveals the importance of the internet as a source for news and information for younger generations, accounting for 32 per cent of their total time spent, which is higher than newspapers and radio combined.


Despite the recent attention paid to mobile platforms, wireless devices currently account for only two per cent of all news and information consumption. But as a significant proportion of news consumed via mobile devices is sourced from the internet, mobile devices clearly contribute to its reach and immediacy.

While consumers look most to television to learn about yesterday’s top story, most identified the internet as their preferred medium to learn more about that same story. Easy access and the ability to search and consult a variety of opinions and perspectives differentiates the internet from other media.

Both surveys were released as part of the Canadian Media Research Consortium’s (CMRC) first-ever Invitational Future of News Summit, which was held in Toronto on May 29, 2008. By bringing together some of the most important media leaders in Canada, the summit tried to highlight some of the biggest challenges facing the media industry and shed some light on what may lie ahead.


The surveys show that traditional media not only should be concerned by the impact of technology, but also by the negative impact that a lack of trust can have on any medium.  People clearly care about accuracy, discipline and a commitment to quality. And if traditional media tamper with those principles, the audience is clearly prepared to find other sources that provide what they want. Today’s media landscape presents more choices than ever, and audiences are increasingly sophisticated.


Digital platforms allow news consumers to look elsewhere for different perspectives, alleviating some of their concerns of trust and credibility. This is also probably why research shows that audiences are now more open to opinionated news because it is so easy to browse multiple perspectives.


There is no question that the importance of the internet for Canadians will continue to grow as a younger generation, accustomed to on-demand access, grows older.


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Future of News Summit
Toronto, May 29, 2021
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