"Troubling" trend: 40% of Dutch barely follow the news causing social planning concerns

On an average day 21 percent of Dutch don't bother following the news at all and another 18 percent spend less than five minutes doing so, according to a study social and cultural planning office SCP released on Thursday. That amounts to 39 percent of Dutch barely knowing what's going on in the country and the world, ANP reports.

The SCP calls this a "troubling" trend. "A well informed population is important for the functioning of democracy", according to researcher Annemarie Wennekers.

95 percent of Dutch spare the news at least a quick glance on a weekly basis. But on an average day only 79 percent make time for it. And only 61 percent of Dutch spend more than five minutes looking at the daily news, according to the study based on a survey from 2015. Television and physical newspapers are still the most widely used news sources in the Netherlands, according to the study.

Highly educated people, people over the age of 65 and men are the top news consumers in the Netherlands. On average 39 percent of this group watch the news on television and 27 percent read paper newspapers. 

According to the SCP, in 2015 the major turning point from print to digital media happened in the age range of 20 to 34 years. These young adults mostly use news sites and news apps to find out what is going on. 

A 2016 survey by Reuters among 70 thousand news consumers from 39 countries showed that 79 percent get information through online media and 74 percent watch news on television.

There are no official figures for 2017 as yet, but researcher Annemarie Wennekers expects that Dutch between the ages of 35 and 49 years will reach the same turning point that young adults did in 2015 and make the switch to online media for their news. "Among elderly people no such movement can be seen, that fits with the image on how technology spreads in society", she said, according to the news wire.

The use of online news media goes hand-in-hand with digital skills. People with affinity for technology are the front runners in online news usage, according to Wennekers.  

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