British read news on mobiles now

Britons are abandoning computers as their main way to access digital news in favour of updates on smartphones and tablets.

According to beancounters at Oxford University’s Reuters Institute the proportion of consumers who mostly rely on a computer to get news online has fallen by 23 percentage points in the last year to 57 percent.

Smartphones are now the main way to access digital news for 24 percent, up 11 percentage points in the same period, and tablets for 16 percent, also up 11 percentage points.

The shift in hardware is part of a broader change with potentially profound effects for society according to the report’s authors.

The study said that there was an ‘echo chamber’ effect as mobile consumers rely on increasingly narrow sources to make sense of the explosion of choice online.

Dr David Levy, director of the Reuters Institite, said: “In some countries such as the UK the established news brands have retained their loyalty in the more competitive online environment but the rapid growth of social media as a way of discovering and consuming news has a range of possible ramifications.

“While choice proliferates, consumption may narrow; reliance on recommendations from like-minded friends could mean people are less exposed to a broad news agenda.

“As the ways of reading change, some people may operate in a news echo chamber where they are less likely to be exposed to other content through chance.”

The report shows how some readers are increasingly committed to news providers amid the rapid change.

Of those who pay for digital news, 63 percent do so via a recurring subscription, compared with 42 percent a year ago, with the reputations of individual reporters and commentators increasingly seen as a selling point.