News is entertaining enough: people want more perspectives and more inspiration
July 2nd, 2024, Clifton Mark

News is entertaining enough: people want more perspectives and more inspiration

  • “Keeping me up-to-date” and “learning about different topics” are top news values among global consumers.
  • Younger consumers more concerned with news that is inspiring and entertaining.
  • Americans believe their news media is entertaining enough already. Offering different perspectives is the top priority for improving global news media.

In countries around the world, interest in news is declining to the point that many people are actively avoiding the news. Global news media is faced with pointed questions: Why do people consume news in the first place? And what, if anything, can be done to make the news more appealing?

The Reuters Digital News Report 2024 provides insight into what global consumers value in the news, and where there’s room for improvement. Based on a YouGov survey of nearly 100,000 people in 47 markets, the report explores the changes that are shaping the digital news landscape.

Learn more about the YouGov data behind the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2024Speak to a researcher

What people want from the news: Updates and to learn something new

For some, news is valuable because it keeps them updated, for others, it’s because it allows them to learn more about a topicor to connect with others. The Reuters Digital News Report 2024 asked audiences around the world what was important to them in the news. This is what they said:

Staying updated is important to the highest proportion of consumers (72%), followed by learning about topics and events (67%) and learning about different perspectives (63%).

Information is the central reason people consume news, but it’s not the only reason. Most consumers also think giving practical advice (60%) is an important feature of the news, as well as keeping them engaged (59%) and making them feel better about the world (54%). About half also say that feeling connected to others (50%) and being entertained (47%) are important.

What different age groups value: US vs. UK

The rough hierarchy of news values, with updating and learning near the top, is similar across age groups and global markets. However, there are still differences in how different demographics approach news media.

Older consumers in America tend to value staying updated more than their younger counterparts. Among Americans aged 55 and older, 55% say that being updated is “very important,” compared to only 38% of those between 25-34.

Younger Americans, by contrast, are more likely to look for news that can inspire and entertain them. About a quarter (26%) of Americans aged 18-34 look for these features in the news, significantly more than in older age groups.

Up to the age of 44, more than one in five Americans say that news is important because it helps connect them to others in society. After this age, the proportion drops to 11% (45-54) and 12% (55+).

In the UK, the results were slightly different. Whilst the main news values are in a similar rank, Brits are less likely to say something is “very important” across the board. The proportion of people who answer, “very important” is lower across every age group and every value, except that 12% of 45-54-year-olds in both markets say that about “practical advice.”

Age cohorts also responded differently. In America, those above 55 years are most concerned with staying updated. In the UK, this value is most important among 35-44-year-olds (45%) rather than among 55+ (40%).

Learn more about the YouGov data behind the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2024Speak to a researcher

How to fix the news: The “Use Need Priority Index”

The Reuters report also provides insights on how best to improve news. In addition to asking what consumers value, it also asks how well the news delivers on these values. This shows a gap between what consumers want and what they feel they’re getting. The authors of the report then multiply this percentage point difference by the importance of the value in question to yield a “User Needs Priority Index” (UNPI).

The UNPI is a measure of how important the gaps are between what consumers want from the news and what they’re getting. For example, the report discovers that, even though keeping people updated is the most widely valued function of the news, it’s already doing a fairly good job fulfilling that need. More could be done in other areas, particularly in showing other perspectives (UNPI 7.6 among all respondents) and in inspiring consumers by making them feel better about the world (UNPI 6.5).

UK and US news in focus

The most urgent priority in both the UK and US is to offer different perspectives. In the UK, the UNPI for different perspectives is 12.0, in the US, 8.4. Britons feel a more urgent need for more news that makes them feel better about the world than Americans (8.8 vs. 4.1), whereas Americans are more unsatisfied with how well news keeps them updated.

When it comes to entertaining news, the two markets differ. In the UK, consumers feel the news could be slightly more entertaining, with a UNPI of 1.5. Americans, however, appear to believe their news is a little too entertaining. They have a negative UNPI (-2.3) when it comes to entertaining news, meaning that more people think the news does a good job of entertaining than those who believe it’s important that news should entertain.

Learn more about the YouGov data behind the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2024Speak to a researcher