(Source: Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2024)
  • This article was partially written using AI

    The Reuters Digital News Report 2024 provides critical insights into the changing media landscape globally, with specific findings on the African market. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the key points relevant to Africa.

    Media Challenges in Africa

    • Declining Interest and Selective Avoidance

    The report shows a global decline in news interest and an increase in selective news avoidance. In Africa, this trend is mirrored with significant challenges for traditional media outlets.

    • Media Layoffs and Closures

    In Kenya, the Nation Media Group announced layoffs of 180 employees due to financial losses. Similarly, South Africa’s Media24 is planning to close several mainstream print publications, reflecting a broader erosion of the media landscape.

    Rise of Digital Subscriptions

    • Mixed Success with Paywalls

    The adoption of digital subscriptions varies across African countries:

    • Kenya: The Nation has tightened its paywall post-elections. Few people are prepared to pay for online news in Kenya.
    • Morocco: Online subscription models are still developing, with most publications relying on advertising.
    • Nigeria: Several publishers have introduced low-cost subscription models, though revenue remains limited.
    • South Africa: News24 reached over 100,000 subscribers, the highest in Africa, while Daily Maverick has grown its membership to 27,500.

    Social Media and Misinformation

    • Shift in Platform Dynamics

    The report highlights a notable decline in the use of Facebook for news, with consumption dropping by 4 percentage points globally over the past year, and even more sharply in countries like the Philippines, Argentina, and Colombia. Instead, people are increasingly turning to alternatives such as messaging apps and video networks. YouTube is now used for news by nearly 31% of the global sample each week, while WhatsApp is used by around 21%. TikTok, at 13%, has surpassed X (formerly Twitter) at 10%, especially in parts of the Global South.

    • Rising Misinformation Concerns

    Misinformation remains a significant concern, particularly in countries with upcoming elections. In South Africa, 81% of respondents expressed concern about misinformation, well above the global average of 59.

    Across various markets, the percentage of respondents expressing concern about distinguishing real from fake content online has increased by 3 points, from 56% to 59%. This worry is particularly pronounced in countries with upcoming elections, such as South Africa (81%), the United States (72%), and the UK (70%). Regionally, Africa stands out with the highest levels of concern at 75%, compared to lower levels in Northern and Western Europe.

    AI and News Production

    • Public Wariness of AI

    There is widespread public suspicion about the use of AI in news production, especially for critical topics like politics and war. However, there is more acceptance of AI for routine tasks such as transcription and translation.

    Trust in News

    • Low but Stable Trust Levels

    Trust in news remains low globally, with selective news avoidance on the rise. Despite this, the report finds that audiences still rely on trustworthy news sources for accurate information. South African media enjoys higher levels of trust compared to their counterparts. The report also reveals that concerns about distinguishing trustworthy from untrustworthy online content vary across different platforms.

    Conclusion

    The Reuters Digital News Report 2024 highlights the pressures faced by the news industry in Africa, from financial challenges and layoffs to the evolving digital landscape. While digital subscriptions offer a glimmer of hope, the rise of misinformation and changing platform dynamics present ongoing challenges for media organizations.