Could you live without a newspaper?
86% of Canadians say yes.
That information comes from a survey conducted in June by Abacus Data.
According to the survey, almost 9 out of 10 people in Canada say they’d be fine if their local newspaper went out of business—they’d still be able to get all the news and information they need.
If Canadians aren’t turning to newspapers for news, where are they going?
In another survey conducted by Abacus in 2016, they found that 21% of Canadians turn to Facebook first for news.
Altogether, a total of 41% of Canadians go online for breaking news, either to social media or a news website—not to print.
For people ages 18-29, that figure is 69%, with 43% turning to Facebook first.
It’s a generational thing, in other words. While 40% of those aged 60 and over read a printed newspaper each day that number falls to just 10% of those aged 18 to 29.
24% of people aged 18-29 never read a newspaper. 25% might check one once a month.
“If you want to get a story or opinion in front of a Canadian audience, you need to make sure you’re making it available to consumers in an attention-getting and engaging way on Facebook,” Abacus says, noting that 82% of Canadians use it to read news stories.
The challenge of Facebook is that the range of knowledge tends to narrow for people who use it as a main source of information.
As Abacus discovered, only 28% of younger Canadians report using Facebook to follow a broad range of topics. 51% pursue only what interests them.
Older age groups are more likely to keep up with a variety of topics.
With Facebook’s algorithms designed to cater news and information to each user’s unique interests, this means the likelihood of them encountering new ideas or stories is limited.
As Abacus put it: “The resulting reliance on Facebook as a primary source means users are getting a limited world view and a limited set of opinions that most closely match their own (confirmation bias).
“To get messages and stories to reach a wider untapped audience, organizations need to be creative with organic online activities and clever with paid online activities.”
(Interestingly, 19% of Facebook users say they follow charities on that platform, which is a good bit of news for non-profits. 10% say they follow religious organizations. The trick is how to get them to like and then share information sent to them.)
Many will lament this situation, but there’s no going back.
Says Abacus: “Offline breaking news sources are being eclipsed by digital news sources as generational disruption and widespread use of social media and mobile technology radically alters the news and information landscape.
“The change we are witnessing is moving so quickly that we anticipate within another five years, how Canadians consume news and information will look nothing like it did two decades before.”
And you won’t find that in a newspaper—if you can find a newspaper at all.