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Home » Where do people get their news from in the UK? Survey results

Where do people get their news from in the UK? Survey results

Traditional news outlets are the top sources of news for UK adults, a survey on where people in the UK get their news from has found. 

The research commissioned by communications company Woburn Partners and carried out by Find Out Now surveyed 5,890 British adults in March to understand where people get their news. 

Most people, found the survey, get their news from the website of professional publishers (47%), followed by TV (35%), social media (33%), radio (24%), and printed publications (15%).

Young people were less likely however, to use offline news sources. While 36% of people aged over 65 said they used print sources for news, this fell to 7% among 18 – 24 year olds and 6% among 25-34 year olds. Almost six in ten (58%) of over 65s and 44% of people aged 55 to 64 said they used TV for news, compared to 32% of 18 to 24 year olds and 13% of 25 to 34 year olds. 

Younger people were instead more likely to say they used social media as a news source. Over half (58%) of 18 to 24 year olds and 46% of 25 to 34 year olds said that they got their news from social media compared to 29% of people aged 45 to 54. 

Among professional respondents (often classified as the AB social group) most (53%) said that they used non-social media websites as a news source. This fell to 41% among people classed as DE, which includes semi and unskilled workers as well as those out of work, although online news was still the most-often cited news source among this group too.

Looking at political leaning as defined by the way respondents voted in the last general election in 2019, Conservative voters were much more likely to state TV to be among their news sources (48%) compared to Labour voters (28%). Tory voters were also much less likely to say they got news from social media (22%) than Labour voters (41%) and SNP voters (44%). 

In line with other surveys and Press Gazette’s monthly ranking of leading newsbrands, the survey found that BBC News was the most popular professional publisher website for news. Almost six in ten (59%) of people who said they used news websites said they counted BBC News as among their sources. 

It was followed by Sky News (22%) and The Guardian (18%). Both sites were also particularly popular among 18 to 24 year olds, the youngest group included in the survey. Thirty percent of this Generation Z group said that they would put the Guardian and Sky News websites among their news sources. More older respondents in contrast reported using right-leaning Mail Online as a source than young respondents. 

Breaking down respondents by social group, the survey found that the BBC’s audience skews towards professional respondents with 69% of those classed as AB citing the BBC among their news sources, compared to 55% classed as DE. The BBC was also favoured by Remainers with almost three quarters (72%) of people who voted that Britain should stay in the EU saying that they used the BBC News website. Mail Online readers in contrast were tilted towards Leave. Over a quarter of people who said they used Mail Online said they had voted leave compared to 9% of people who voted remain. 

Whilst these non-social media websites were read fairly consistently (35% – 59%) by all age groups, this was lowest amongst 18-24 year olds. This group overwhelmingly favoured social media websites. 

Among the 18 to 24 year old group, Facebook (60%), Twitter (40%), Instagram (48%), YouTube (31%), Snapchat (28%) and TikTok (27%) all received high percentages of usage for news demonstrating the wide and potentially unpredictable nature of the news sources for young people.

Among all age groups, Facebook (63%), Twitter (31%), Instagram (29%), and Google (28%) were named the most popular social news sources. This is despite the fact that Facebook has been downgrading the importance of publisher content on its platform and cutting ties with the news industry.

Most popular TV and radio outlets for news: BBC dominates, GB News popular in Wales

As well as coming out as the public’s top news website, the BBC was also named as the top TV news channel and radio news broadcaster. 

Among those who use TV channels for news, 59% of people said they watched BBC News. Second most popular, ITV News was named by 57% of respondents.  

Broken down by region, while the BBC dominated across the UK, GB News which has said that that it aims to serve “non-metropolitan voices in the national conversation” was tied for popularity with Channel 4 as a TV news source in the North East and Wales. The new channel was cited as a TV news source among 10% of people in the North and East and 14% in Wales. The channel was also more popular than Channel 4 among Leave voters (12% vs 10%).

BBC Radio 2 (22%) and Heart (18%) are the most popular radio stations for news.

Most popular print sources of news: 15% use newspapers for news

While print was found to be one of the least popular sources of news among the people surveyed, fifteen percent of people said that they still consider newspapers to be among their news sources. Most popular was The Daily Mail (named as a news source by 33% of people). It was followed by The Sun (27%) and Mail on Sunday (17%). The Mail on Sunday’s position high up the list of most read newsbrands indicates that a significant portion of Britons still buy a Sunday newspaper. 

Among younger newspaper readers, The Guardian and i are the most poplar newspapers. Over a third (36%) of 18 to 24 year olds said that they read the Guardian, while 29% named the i. The Daily Mail audience in contrast skewed older with 41% of people aged over 65 citing it as a news source. 

Men were also much more likely to say they used a print news source (20%), compared to women (11%). 

The survey also found that a significant number of people get news from personal sources such as family, friends and acquaintances. Twenty-eight percent of people said their friends were a source of news, while 18% named colleagues and their partner. 

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