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Traditional media vs. digital media: who’s winning the battle?

Earlier this month, our article “Online Media Outlets: Web 2.0 losers?” spoke of the current upheaval in the news industry as traditional media sources battle to reinvent themselves and engage the digital generation. While it’s clear that more people than ever are turning to online media sources to keep up to date with the latest news, not all countries have embraced digital in the same way, or at the same speed.

The first Reuters Institute Digital Survey, released at the beginning of July, analyses news consumption and consumer behavior in five countries: the UK, USA, Denmark, France and Germany. The results of this research carried out by YouGov, show clear differences in media consumption and usage between each of the countries surveyed.

Germany remains loyal to printed media

One of the key issues in the traditional media vs. social media debate is the switch from a physical, printed document to a digital reading experience. The results of the study show that of the five countries surveyed, Germany holds the greatest attachment to printed media. 68% of the Germans surveyed said that they had read a newspaper or magazine within the last week. This is compared with 45% for the USA and 54% for the UK.

The report suggests that regional governmental support for printed media and restrictions on internet activity mean that the country has been slower to adopt digital media. Both the figures and the social situation are in stark contrast with the English-speaking media world that has long pioneered innovative digital news platforms such as BBC News and The Huffington Post.

Social media as a news source: USA leads the way

Figures from the study show that the USA leads the way when it comes to social media, blogs, and aggregators as news sources. 41% of those surveyed in the USA used social media as a news source, followed by 30% in Germany, 28% in Denmark, 22% in the UK and 21% in France.

Why such low figures for the UK? The study cites the fact that traditional media brands like The Guardian were quick to integrate innovative techniques such as blogging and social media, with the result being that other news sources were edged out from the very start of the digital media wave.

The future?

The Reuters Institute hopes that this survey will continue annually as a means of internationally benchmarking media consumption habits. There is no doubt that the next few years will be critical for determining the future of traditional media sources and their relevance in the digital age. It remains to be seen if online media will be adopted as a preferred source throughout the world and if new providers and sources emerge from countries where digital media platforms already have a stronghold.

Photo credit: jfingas

by Emma-Jane Crozier on July 31, 2012

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