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New report finds growing distrust in news and divergence between young men and women

The 2024 Digital News Report, which dives into news media trends and consumption habits, has found a growing gender gap in news interest between Gen Z men and women, and nearly one in four Australians are now exclusively relying on social media to get their news.

The latest Digital News Report, published this morning, has found a growing distrust in the news in Australia, and a divergence in news consumption and interest between young men and women.

For the Missing Perspectives team, these findings were not a surprise: young female engagement with mainstream media is declining, mostly because of a perception that traditional news does not cater to their demographic. News audiences are also seeking more diverse perspectives on topics in the news.

This report is part of a long-running international survey coordinated by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University. The News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra is the Australian partner institute. Now in its tenth year Down Under, this year's research report was led by author and Professional Research fellow Dr Sora Park.

Distrust in news is on the rise

The report found that news fatigue (41%) is much higher than it was in 2019, and that Gen Z's interest in politics has fallen in the past year (decreasing 6% to 28%).

This graph shows how male and female interest in news has trended over the past four years. Source: Digital News Report Australia 2024.

Importantly, the report found that the gender gap in news interest between Gen Z men and women is widening. The report found that only 23% of Gen Z women say they are very interested in news, compared to 47% of Gen Z men. In terms of why this may be the case, researchers say that young women are more likely to feel underrepresented in the news, and that their issues are not given adequate airtime, which links to both how much they trust and engage with traditional news media.

The report found that distrust in the news is rising consistently, and at a faster rate than trust in news is falling. Trust has fallen hardest among women who consume less news. To determine trust, respondents are asked "Do you trust the news?", and reply on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree".

Half of Australians now get their news from social media

One in two Australians now get their news from social media, with one in four relying on it as their main source of news.

The report found that Facebook (32%), YouTube (26%) and Instagram (16%) are the top social media platforms for news among Australians. Interestingly, YouTube for news among men jumped 10% since 2022 (35%).

Instagram is now the top social media platform for news among Gen Z (34%), with nearly two-thirds of Gen Z (60%) relying on social media as their main news source - an increase of 17% from last year.

Traditional media brands like The ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian as well as small upstart media companies like Flux Finance, The Daily Aus and of course Missing Perspectives all produce news media content for social channels in a bid to meet the people where they're at.

Given the growing numbers of Australians relying on social media channels to find out what's going on in the world, Meta's threat to potentially remove news media content from its platforms (Facebook and Instagram) could therefore have a huge impact on the quality of information that gets filtered through to young news consumers.

When exploring how a potential Meta news ban will impact young women, it’s important to understand the news consumption habits of young people.

However, when it comes to the issue of discerning what is real from what is fake, the report found that people using the ByteDance-owned platform TikTok have the toughest time in accurately identifying trustworthy news.

Dr Sora Park from the University of Canberra has previously told Missing Perspectives: “…they [young people] bump into news while they are on social media platforms, and this is an important way they are informed. Many young people believe that ‘news will find me’ and rely on these platforms to get critical information about their surroundings, and society.”

“If social media platforms deliberately reduce or ban the news, it will be a huge loss for young people who rely on social media to get their daily news,” Dr Park told Missing Perspectives.