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Digital News Report: Australia

Digital News Report: Australia 2019

Australians are fact-checking to combat fake news

High levels of concern about fake news have led to fact-checking by Australian news consumers.

The Digital News Report: Australia 2019 finds 62% of Australian news consumers say they are worried about what is real or fake on the internet, which is much higher than the global average (55%).

The report shows news consumers are beginning to take more action to counter their concern about fake news:

  • 36% say they checked several different sources to check the accuracy of a story;
  • 26% say they have started to use more reliable sources of news;
  • 22% say they have stopped using unreliable sources;
  • 22% say the decided not to share a story they were unsure about; and
  • 20% say they stopped paying attention to a story shared by someone they didn’t trust.

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The Digital News Report: Australia 2019 also finds:

Australians would rather pay for Netflix than news: Australian news consumers would rather subscribe to a video streaming service, such as Netflix (34%), than pay for online news (9%).

News performance: Australians have given the news media a mixed report card. 66% think the news media does a good job keeping them up to date and 57% think they do a good job explaining events. However, less than half (45%) think they are holding the powerful to account; 44% say it is often too negative; and only 25% say the stories are relevant to their lives.

News avoidance and fatigue: The proportion of Australians avoiding news has increased from 57% in 2017 to 62% in 2019, and 28% say they are worn out by the volume of news. Eighty-eight per cent of those who are worn out by news, also avoid it.

Interest in news and politics: The proportion of Australians who say they are interested in news has dropped from 64% in 2016 to 58% in 2019; and 65% of Australians say they have a low interest in politics.

There is a gender ‘paying gap’: Ten per cent of women pay for online news compared to 17% of men. Overall, 14% pay for online news which is close to the global average (13%).

Global comparison: Australians are the ‘lightest’ news consumers. Out of 38 countries 48% of Australians consume news once a day or less which is much higher than the global average (34%).

Educational and generational divide: The report highlights the division between news consumers based on education and income. Consistently, those with lower education and income consume less news, are less interested, are less likely to pay, and less likely to fact-check news.

Generational differences in news consumption can be seen in all aspects of news consumption, most starkly in the use of social media. Almost half of generation Z (47%) use social media as their main source of news, and about one-third of generation Y (33%) do. Whereas older generations continue to rely on traditional offline sources of news.

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The Digital News Report: Australia 2019 is the fifth in a series of annual reports which tracks changes in news consumption in Australia over time, particularly within the digital space. The Report is published by the University of Canberra’s News and Media Research Centre (N&MRC).

The online survey was conducted in Australia between late January and early February 2019. The Australian survey forms part of a global study of 38 territories by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

Cite the report as: Fisher, C., Park, S., Lee, J., Fuller, G., Sang, Y. (2019) Digital News Report: Australia 2019. Canberra: News and Media Research Centre.


Dr Caroline Fisher, lead author, News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra

Previous Digital News Reports

Download our Digital News Report: Australia 2019

Download our Digital News Report: Australia 2018

Download our Digital News Report: Australia 2017

Download our Digital News Report: Australia 2016

Download our Digital News Report: Australia 2015

Previous Media Stories, Podcasts and Interviews

  1. The Fourth Estate Podcast with Peter Fray: Are Australians Turning Their Back On The News?
  2. Radio National Drive: More Australians are sick of bad news
  3. 3AW: Why are Australians avoiding the news? Report finds 62 per cent of people are tuning out
  4. ABC News 24:
  5. ABC Melbourne Breakfast: Tired of the news cycle? You’re not alone, says report
  6. The Guardian Australia, Australian politics live podcast: Why are Australians avoiding the news?
  7. ABC Radio, The World Today: Trust in the media is falling while fake news anxiety rises, report finds
  8. ABC Adelaide Drive with Jules Schiller: Wednesday June 12, 2019
  9. ABC 666 Drive with Anna Vidot: Digital News Report: Australia 2019
  10. ABC Nightlife: Wednesday June 12, 2019
  11. 2SER: Are Australians interested in news?
  12. Chris Kenny on Media, Sky TV: Research shows online shift is a ‘crisis’ for news organisations
  13. Democracy Sausage with Mark Kenny: Trust issues and the Trump bump
  14. Media Files podcast: Australians’ trust in news media is falling as concern over ‘fake news’ grows
  15. Content Group Govcomms podcast part 1: Giving up on news: The latest trends in digital news consumption with Caroline Fisher
  16. Content Group Govcomms podcast part 2: A Matter of trust: Rebuilding citizen trust with Caroline Fisher
  17. 3RRR Room With a View: Monday 17 June 2019
  18. ABC Adelaide Drive - Thursday 14th June with Caroline Fisher.
  19. ABC Melbourne Drive - Thursday 14th June with Caroline Fisher.
  20. Triple J's Hack - Thursday 14th June with Caroline Fisher.
  21. ABC 666 Mornings - Thursday 14th June with Caroline Fisher.
  22. What's the future of media for young people? - 'The roundtable', ABC Radio National, Monday 25th June with Sora Park.
  23. Digital trends and opportunity for government communication - Content Group Govcomms podcast, Tuesday 31st July with Caroline Fisher.
  24. Policy Forum Pod Extra: protecting the media - Tuesday 7th August, with Caroline Fisher.