IT IS obvious audiences for news moved online at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and this trend continues one year later as countries still face fluctuations in the number of infection cases.
While news organizations tried to adapt quickly and moved resources to digital, they also realized that change is constant and the need to be focused, resourceful and innovative more pressing to sustain the business and the information gathering and reporting on multiple platforms.
The celebration of World Press Freedom Day on Monday, May 3, 2021, provided the occasion to look into the media situation and what organizations have to do to keep their journalism alive because they play a vital role in a democracy.
The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of almost all businesses, including the news business. If news organizations have been resisting the fact that journalists have to be multi-platform, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a stop to that and forced them to accept the changes brought about by the huge shift to online.
The State of Digital Report published by We Are Social and Hootsuite and released on Jan. 27, 2021, showed the growth of online consumption year-on-year.
There were 4.66 billion people around the world who used the internet in January 2021, up by 316 million (7.3 percent) since this time last year. Global internet penetration now stands at 59.5 percent. There are now 4.20 billion social media users around the world. This figure grew by 490 million over the past 12 months, delivering year-on-year growth of more than 13 percent. The number of social media users is now equivalent to more than 53 percent of the world’s population.
For the Philippines, our population is at 110.3 million, representing an increase of 1.5 million or 1.3 percent between January 2020 and January 2021. There are 73.91 million internet users in the Philippines now, showing an increase of 4.2 million or 6.1 percent between 2020 and 2021. Internet penetration stood at 67 percent.
There were 89 million social media users as of January 2021, representing an increase of 16 million or 22 percent between 2020 and 2021. The number of social media users was equivalent to 80.7 percent of the total population. As to mobile connections, the number stood at 152.4 million, equivalent to 138.2 percent of the total population as some individuals have more than one connection.
These numbers point to how we’re more online than ever. Filipinos are still the world’s biggest consumers of social media, spending an average of four hours and 15 minutes. Compare that to Japan whose people spend less than an hour a day (actually 51 minutes) on social media. And social media users do not stay on one platform. They go on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, WhatsApp etc.
So the challenge to media is to accept that change is constant and for journalists to continue to learn new skills and find new ways of telling stories.