Online platforms like WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook are widely used for news consumption in India, according to an annual report by Reuters Institute. According to the global survey, India has emerged as one of the strongest mobile focused markets, with 73% of users accessing news through smartphones and only 37% using computers.
The reason behind the relatively greater use of smartphones than computers for news consumption is because many of the 600 million active internet users access the internet only through mobile phones, aided by low data charges and cheap devices, as per the survey. More than half of the respondents said they use WhatsApp and YouTube for news consumption.
About 59% of the respondents, mainly English-speaking online users in India, used television for news while 82% of them said they consume news through online platforms, including social media. The report noted that the increased dependency on social media platforms for news consumption has also caused "serious problems with misinformation and hate speech."
"Facebook is seen as the main channel for spreading false information almost everywhere but messaging apps like WhatsApp are seen as a bigger problem in parts of the Global South such as Brazil and Indonesia," Nic Newman, senior research associate, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said in the report.
While television remains the most popular news source overall, print brands are more trusted than television which, according to the Digital News Report 2021, are "far more polarized and sensational in their coverage." Citing the recent Television Rating Point (TRP) case, the report suggested that Republic TV has lower trust scores than legacy print and television brands despite its popularity.
"Respondents are generally more affluent, younger, have higher levels of formal education, and are more likely to live in cities than the wider Indian population. Findings should not be taken to be nationally representative," the report said.