The Scottish Mail on Sunday

The other big Election winner? MailOnline!

Our website and BBC were top sources for political news


MAILONLINE was the most dominant newspaper website during the General Election, accounting for more than one fifth of all time spent on news sites – three times its closest rival.

According to new research, the internet juggernaut accounted for 21 per cent of all time spent on UK news websites in the run-up to the December 12 poll, compared withseven per cent for The Guardian, six per cent for the Mirror, five per cent for The Sun, and two per cent for The Telegraph, Express and Independen­t. Of all media outlets, only the BBC – with 28 per cent – scored higher.

It means that Mail on Sunday political reports are not only reaching the 2.2 million readers of the print edition, but millions more online. MailOnline – which boasts more than 15 million daily users – was also the most successful newspaper site in terms of the proportion of UK adults – 32 per cent – who viewed it during the campaign.

The research by the Reuters Institute

for the Study of Journalism tracked the online news consumptio­n of 1,711 people aged 18 to 65 across mobile and desktop devices throughout the six-week Election campaign. MailOnline also attracted a high proportion – 27 per cent – of the usually hard-to-engage 18-to-34 age bracket, more than both The Sun and the Mirror. By comparison, Buzzfeed News, which energetica­lly targets younger ‘clicks’, only reached ten per cent of that demographi­c. The report concluded: ‘It was a winner-takes-most market, with just two providers, the BBC and MailOnline, accounting for nearly half the time spent on news websites.’

It said some titles, such as The Express and Independen­t, which showed ‘very low levels of time spent’, had suffered ‘because traffic to these sites tends to be irregular use from social media or search rather than regular and loyal audiences’.

The report, authored by researcher­s Nic Newman, Richard Fletcher and Anne Schulz, also dismissed claims that computer algorithms had narrowed online readers’ range of reference, saying: ‘The fear is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter and search engines like Google use data on our past to infer our preference­s and then use algorithms to feed us news that matches those preference­s – trapping us in filter bubbles where we only ever see news from outlets we like or agree with.

‘However, most empirical research fails to find any evidence of this, and our data from the 2019 Election campaign are no different [to that research].’ It added: ‘This report shows that mainstream media still play an important role in scrutinisi­ng politician­s and helping to inform voters.’

The report concluded: ‘Our data also reveal the different patterns of younger people online, who are even more easily distracted by social media and other apps and ended up spending less time with news on average compared with older groups.

‘In terms of those who do access the news, the bulk of this appeared to be reportage rather than opinion, and was accessed from mainstream news sites … we find little evidence that foreign websites or openly accessible partisan Facebook pages captured much attention online in this Election.’

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