What\u2019s happening?\r\n\r\nA group of Journalists, namely \u2013 Professor Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Nic Newma, Dr Richard Fletche, and Dr Antonis Kalogeropoulos \u2013 researched the backdrop of rising populism, political and economic instability. The 2019 Reuters Digital News Report gives us a clear view of the current state of digital publishing, what\u2019s currently at stake, and the amount of damage done by populism.\r\n\r\nWhy it matters:\r\n\r\nThe level of trust people have in the news media is decreasing day after day globally, as giant tech companies are overtaking the news industry by advertising on social media platforms. This drop-in news credibility is halting the growth of journalism and dissemination of valid information.\r\n\r\nAccording to 2019 The Reuters Digital News Report, \u2018Political polarisation has encouraged the growth of partisan agendas online, which together with clickbait and various forms of misinformation is helping to further undermine trust in media \u2013 raising new questions about how to deliver balanced and fair reporting in the digital age.\u2019\r\n\r\nDigging deeper:\r\n\r\nThe researchers mentioned earlier took their time to answer several questions bothering the average publisher. The questions and respective answers are as follows:\r\n\r\nWhat is the attitude of readers towards pay models on news sites?\r\n\r\nNews agencies have taken a bold step toward independent journalism. This involves the launching of pay wall on news websites \u2013 an idea that is barely accepted among readers. Little increase in subscribers was reported as, \u201cGrowth is limited to a handful of countries mainly in the Nordic region (Norway 34%, Sweden 27%) while the number paying in the US (16%) remains stable after a big jump in 2017.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe researchers realized that subscription fatigue is taking over since a good percentage of readers prefer subscribing to Netflix or Spotify rather than news. Most of the payments made in Norway and Sweden \u2013 the countries with a reasonable level of payment \u2013 are paid to \u201cONE online subscription \u2013 suggesting that \u2018winner takes all\u2019 dynamics are likely to be important. One encouraging development though is that most payments are now \u2018ongoing\u2019, rather than one-offs.\u201d\r\n\r\nHow is the rise of social media platforms, such as WhatsApp and Instagram contributing to populism?\r\n\r\nAccording to a report published by CNET, Facebook lost about 15 million US-based users in the last two years. This is bad news for journalists because Facebook is one of the leading sources of traffic for news sites. As Facebook is losing users, WhatsApp and Instagram are benefitting from the attention shift.\r\n\r\nThe Reuters Institute research shows that \u201cSocial communication around news is becoming more private as messaging apps continue to grow everywhere. WhatsApp has become a primary network for discussing and sharing news in non-Western countries like Brazil (53%) Malaysia (50%), and South Africa (49%).\u201d\r\n\r\nMisinformation on WhatsApp is fast-becoming a trend. Placing a limit on the number of people in a group and disbanding reported groups doesn\u2019t stop the spread of fake news. The researchers surveyed people\u2019s opinion on fake news and discovered that \u201cIn Brazil, 85% agree with a statement that they are worried about what is real and fake on the internet. The concern is also high in the UK (70%) and the US (67%), but much lower in Germany (38%) and the Netherlands (31%).\u201d\r\n\r\nHow does the general public perceive content coming from news agencies?\r\n\r\nAs seen in the report, the lack of trust in news content coming from journalists is not encouraging, but the lack of trust among readers is not restricted to a particular country or continent.\r\n\r\nThe report revealed that \u201cAcross all countries, the average level of trust in the news, in general, is down 2 percentage points to 42% and less than half (49%) agree that they trust the news media they use. Trust levels in France have fallen to just 24% (-11) in the last year as the media have come under attack over their coverage of the Yellow Vests movement. Trust in the news found via search (33%) and social media remains stable but extremely low (23%).\u201d\r\n\r\nDoes an individual\u2019s level of education affect his\/her judgment, regarding news credibility?\r\n\r\nHow we perceive the world largely depends on our religion, background, race, and most importantly, education. The role of education cannot be overemphasized, as it gives the human race a clear picture of how the society works.\r\n\r\nEven though educated citizens understand the need for an independent media, the uneducated population disagrees, as they believe \u201cthe news agenda is more geared towards the interests and needs of the more educated.\u201d\r\n\r\nBottom Line:\r\n\r\nTables are turned and journalism is at the receiving end of this paradigm shift. WhatsApp and Instagram have gained more ground, making misinformation easier. This would persist until newsrooms figure out a way to become financially turgid enough to bypass and compete with giant tech companies, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook.