News outlets face losing control to Apple, Facebook and Google

The use of mobile devices to access news on a weekly basis surged in the last year from 37 per cent of respondents to almost half (46 per cent), according to a 12-country report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ).

As smartphones and tablets become the devices of choice for accessing content, traditional news brands are being dis-intermediated by the Silicon Valley giants.

The US firms are in a battle to be the top platform for news, with Facebook recently unveiling its Instant Articles service, and Apple announcing a revamp of Newsstand as Apple News

The report shows a 42 per cent increase year-on-year in referrals from Facebook to the top 20 global news organisations, showing the increasing importance of social media in driving traffic and revenue.

The proportion of all respondents that say they read or shared news on Facebook in the last week grew from 35 per cent to 41 per cent year-on-year. In the UK, this rose from 22 per cent to 29 per cent year-on-year.

Debate has raged across the media industry as to whether partnering with new services from the likes of Facebook will be an invaluable traffic and revenue driver – or whether publishers will eventually find themselves increasingly beholden to third parties such as Google, Apple and Facebook.

“Fragmentation of news provision, which weakens the bargaining power of journalism organisations, has coincided with a concentration of power in platforms,” said Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at Columbia university, in a lead commentary for the report.


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