WATCH: Over half of Irish consumers now get news through social media

Facebook is Ireland's most popular social media site

Social media, Ireland, news source, Facebook, Reuters Institute, Digital News Report, smartphone,

A woman uses her phone at the Facebook stand during the Web Summit in Dublin in 2015 | Image: Niall Carson / PA Archive/Press Association Images

International research has found that over one in ten people - or 12% - say social media is now their primary news source.

In Ireland, over half of consumers surveyed - 52% - get their news through social media sites.

The Reuters Institute Digital News Report says this highlights the widespread use of smartphones, the growth of news on social media, and the rise of ad blockers.

This is the second year that the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has funded the inclusion of Ireland in the report.

The data for the research was collected between January and February.

It found that Facebook is now Ireland's most popular social media site, with 71% using it regularly and 45% using it as a source for news.

Drop in 'traditional' sources

Participation in online news is also high in Ireland, with 72% frequently rating, sharing and commenting on online news stories.

However, only 23% of Irish consumers recognise the news brands responsible for content on social media.

Social media as a news platform rose by 3% when compared with the 2015 survey. Radio and print have declined slightly at 47% and 45%, respectively.

However 39% of Irish people say radio is the first way they access news in the morning, followed by their smartphone, at 21%.

While television remains the most popular platform for accessing news in Ireland at 73%, this marks a 3% decline on last year.

The study also found that a massive 71% of Irish consumers say they are unwilling to pay for online news.

Among those who do pay for news, 49% pay less than €50 a year.

"The widespread availability of free news in the global English-language market is a notable influence on payment rates. No English-speaking country has a news payment rate of more than 10%", the BAI says.

While 42% of consumers say they are willing to view ads in return for free access to news, more than half of them say they find adverts on news sites intrusive.

Among the 26 nations surveyed, Ireland has the fifth highest level of ad blocker use, at 30%. More than half of 18 to 24-year-olds use some form of ad blocker.

No zoom for video content

Trust in news is highest among over-55s. Half of those surveyed do not trust the news in general.

In line with international findings, the Irish trust editors and journalists (37%) less than news organisations themselves (47%).

And news consumption is high in Ireland across all demographics - with 84% of people accessing some news every day.

While 53% say they are accessing news several times a day.

But despite sector expectations, video content is not attracting large numbers of news consumers.

Only a quarter (24%) of international respondents say they access online news video. The Irish are more inclined to watch video news than many European peers, at 28%.

However, those who do not regularly watch news video attribute technical issues (46%), the convenience of reading (39%), and a dislike of pre-roll adverts (24%) as factors.

Commenting on the Irish results of the survey, Dr Jane Suiter, director of the Institute for Future Media and Journalism (FuJo), said: "Worldwide, the popularity of smartphones and ad blockers has created a powerful role for Facebook while presenting some significant difficulties for publishers."

Michael O'Keeffe, BAI chief executive, noted: "From the BAI’s perspective, the provision of well-resourced news and current affairs and the facilitation of conversation and debate are important safeguards in a democratic society."

"Over the past number of years, the BAI has sought to lead and contribute to the debate on plurality in Irish broadcasting. Today's research findings pose a number of challenges with regard to both the points of access to, and the sources of, news for citizens in Ireland."

The BAI says it is currently in the process of developing its new strategy for 2017-2019.

Read the full report here