University of Canberra.
News and Media Research Centre
Digital News Report Australia 2023
There is good news for the industry this year. The number of people paying for online news continues to grow, placing Australia among the top countries globally. One in five Australians pay for online news and those who already pay are increasing the number of their subscriptions.
The top reason consumers pay is to gain access to higher quality news than they find with free sources.
This year’s data confirms Australians’ desire for high quality and trustworthy news while they struggle with the overwhelming volume of information and misinformation. Recognition of the role that algorithms play in filtering the news appears to be high.
Consumers are sceptical of news curation enabled by algorithms, but they are also unsure about journalists and editors selecting the news for them.
Many are also worried about missing out on important information due to the personalisation of news in online environments.
What Australian news consumers do want is positive news, watchdog journalism, and news stories that suggest solutions. For paying news consumers these are particularly important priorities.
In the lead up to this year’s survey, the news was dominated by a series of high-profile events. Audiences turned to the news to stay up to date about the war in Ukraine, a federal election, the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and rising inflation. It is in this environment that we see a slight increase in news trust among Australian consumers, bucking the global trend.
However, the financial stress of the cost-of-living crisis is also taking its toll. Australians who are impacted by rising interest rates are more likely to avoid news and cancel their news subscriptions.
There is still a large proportion of Australians who say they avoid news, and there has been a drop in the overall level of interest in news. Almost one in three news avoiders say they are checking news less often or scrolling past it when they see it.
These attitudes are reflected in the continued decline in news consumption, particularly among women.
The fall in news interest and consumption has been larger among women than men, resulting in a widening gender gap. This year, Australia has the widest gender gap globally in news consumption.
The trust gender gap is also widening.
News access on traditional news mediums — TV, newspaper, radio — also fell slightly this year, consistent with the slowing down of advertising expenditure in Australia.
1 The decline in the use of regional newspapers reflects the ongoing uncertainty of the sector with many regional news outlets contracting or closing.
2 In an increasingly digitalised news environment, Australian news consumers report an overall positive experience of engaging with news online or on social media. They also value publicly funded media with the majority saying it is important for society and for them personally. Trust in and access of the public broadcasters remains high.
Australians continue to gravitate towards new technology such as smart TVs, voice activated speakers or wearable devices. According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), 73% of Australian households own a smart TV.
3 Due to this high penetration, about half (49%) of the respondents in our study report using the device generally in the past week and one in three (29%) use it for news.
Overall, the data show a growing digital news audience where subscriptions are driven by quality, and interest in positive and solutions focused journalism is strong. But there is also significant complexity, with widening gaps appearing between different segments of news audiences.