Smart phones and radio shape news consumption during lockdown

The Internet was a saviour to many during the Covid restrictions.
December 6, 2021

As we re-emerge from the dark and anx­ious days of lock­down, one reflects on how the online world was a life­line to keep our homes going, our fam­i­lies safe and our busi­ness­es run­ning. Chil­dren went to school online, we ordered our food and house­hold essen­tials online, we got our par­ents into the world of online chat – and the busi­ness world of ‘going to a meet­ing’ became a world of back-to-back Zoom calls.

Con­certs and the­atre went online, and so did people’s news habits. Our lat­est mar­ket research com­mis­sioned dur­ing lock­down reveals that news con­sump­tion online soared where­as con­sump­tion of news in print­ed for­mat fell. And look­ing at online news habits, mobile devices have now become twice as pop­u­lar as com­put­ers as a way of access­ing nation­al news online or in real time.

Whilst, no doubt, all the atten­tion has been on how online plat­forms have come into their own since lock­down, it’s impor­tant not to over­look the endur­ing appeal of radio. Our track­ing research sug­gests the amount of peo­ple that have con­sumed dai­ly news on nation­al or dig­i­tal radio sta­tions has soared since lock­down: For some, per­haps, radio offered a calmer oasis to the intense­ly busy online and social plat­forms dur­ing lockdown.

The dai­ly audi­ence for local news has fall­en, per­haps a symp­tom of the online world’s abil­i­ty to put news in a real-time glob­al con­text, cou­pled with the fact that the big issues being tack­led in the news at the moment are, by their nature, nation­al and inter­na­tion­al. Our lat­est research sug­gests dai­ly con­sump­tion of news from region­al papers and local /grassroots radio has fallen.

We will be pub­lish­ing a report on the full find­ings of media habits dur­ing lock­down in the weeks ahead. For more infor­ma­tion do get in touch.