Hi everyone, 

This is Josef, here to spread gospel on the state of news and digital media consumption over the last year. The findings come from some serious studies: the ground-breaking Digital News Report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, the Media Literacy Report (as part of Public Service Media) by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Eurobarometer that surveyed respondents on media and news. Below are our top findings. 

No more doomscrolling 

Digital News Report – Reuters Institute for the study of journalism 

As a panoramic view of the state of the news media in key countries around the world, one striking insight was the rate of news avoidance. In Europe, Greece and Bulgaria have the highest levels of news avoidance, while Finland and Denmark have the lowest. The authors note that in general “the proportion of news consumers who say they avoid news […] remains close to all-time highs at 36% across all markets”. The researchers divide news avoiders into two groups: those who actively avoid “all sources” of news and those who limit their news consumption to a specific time of day. The big question: why do people avoid the news? While this question may never be entirely settled, most respondents said they were interested in “positive or solutions-oriented journalism”. 

Fighting fake news 

Media Literacy Report – European Broadcasting Union (EBU) 

At a time of saturation of information, media literacy can help separate fact from fiction, especially in the digital age. The EBU compiled a report from a handful of EEA countries to analyse their levels of media literacy. Shockingly, only 54% of respondents had the required level of digital literacy, and a staggering 74% of Europeans believe that misinformation is a national problem. To curb the latter, the former needs to increase. Given that we’re at the dawn of mass AI, solid digital skills are essential to help audiences separate fact from fiction. There is, however, cause for optimism: respondents emphasised that there is a strong need for initiatives to further explain and combat fake news, especially in the context of AI. 

Traditional or social media? That is the question 

Media & News Survey 2023 – Eurobarometer 

This study combines general audience habits with media coverage of the EU. It’s interesting to note that 68% of respondents said they had recently read something in the media about the EU. In this respect, although the use of social media for news consumption is steadily increasing, 71% of Europeans prefer TV as their most used platform to access news. On the other hand, social media shares the podium with radio at 37%. This is quite different from the situation across the pond in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, 6 in 10 Americans prefer to use a digital device for news consumption rather than TV or radio. And what about the most trusted platform in the EU? Traditional platforms aren’t dead yet, as they top the charts: public television and radio are the most preferred, followed by the written press. 

The common denominator among these and other stories, is the clash between the old and the new. And while misinformation can spread like wildfire on digital platforms, the more the public is properly informed, the better it will be able to fight misinformation. This is reminiscent of a quote by Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian, in his book ‘Breaking news the remaking of journalism and why it matters now’: “These two worlds – old and new – continue to collide in a fog of mutual suspicion and misunderstanding. The combination of the best of these worlds could yet be formidable.” And indeed, the combination of the old and the new can potentially be news’ best friend, especially in the face of mistrust and media scepticism. 

Until next time, 


Love reading out-of-the-Brussels-bubble tech news? Share it with your friends and colleagues, they can subscribe here. Ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Send them our way! 

#TechAways is brought to you by SEC Newgate EU’s one and only tech team featuring Julia Piwowarska, Giuseppe Campa, Patricia Alonso Castellano, Josef Cutajar, Camilla Frison and Alice Palumbo

Could an AI ‘death calculator’ actually be a good thing? ⚰️ [Financial Times]

Forget the crystal ball, DeathGPT is in town! Scientists in Denmark have developed an algorithm that predicts a person’s life, including the grand finale. Using Denmark’s registry data, it decodes life using similar system that ChatGPT uses for predicting sentences: researchers compiled a “vocabulary” of life events, creating a synthetic language, and used it to construct “phrases”. The result is a model that outshines insurance companies by guessing who will suffer from premature death with a 79% accuracy. Having your life reduced to a string of text may sound creepy, but it might actually have some revolutionary applications: the algorithm may uncover the hidden scripts of health and behaviour, revealing some previously unknown connections. This could inform policymakers seeking to improve our odds of living longer, healthier lives. 

Spreadsheets spread fear 💻 [ArsTechnica]

Spreadsheet mistakes are employees’ #1 nightmare. Think about the Police Service of Northern Ireland that accidentally spilled the tea on 10,000 officers’ secrets via a shared spreadsheet’s hidden tab. Or Crypto.com, who experienced a complete financial rollercoaster after accidentally sending $10.5 million instead of $100 to an Australian customer, resulting in a real-life escape attempt and airport drama. Who has never messed up a spreadsheet, cast the first stone. The blame is on the usual suspect, human error, though not all hope is lost. To make sure mistakes happen at a lower rate, offices need more superhero moves like upgraded training, centralised systems, not opening the file during coffee breaks and a real “double-check” to prevent disasters. 

Brewing a global aesthetic ☕ [The Guardian] 

Have you ever walked into a coffee shop or co-working space and found it nearly identical to the one you visited last week? The strong homogenisation of spaces over the last 15 years has a clear culprit: the algorithmic dominance of Big Tech platforms, which fuelled a global trend, influencing cafe owners and baristas and shaping spaces to align with the increasingly samey preferences of customers worldwide. This global sameness isn’t a recent revelation. Before Thomas Friedman’s theory of “flatness,” cultural theorists like Manuel Castells were already tracing the path of globalization leading to monotony, or as Marc Augé would call it, “the passive joys of identity loss in these non-places.” In any case, a certain level of homogeneity is an unavoidable consequence of algorithmic globalisation, simply because so many like-minded people are now moving through the same physical spaces, influenced by the same digital platforms. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as a bad thing. 

Even the White Lotus is a better holiday spot 🌌 [GIZMODO]

The EnVision mission to Venus was officially adopted by the European Space Agency on Thursday to further study the solar system planet. Venus is hot, seasonless, covered with clouds of sulfuric acid and may have active volcanoes on its surface. The air pressure of the planet is 92 times the air pressure on Earth, only comparable to the suffocating feeling of flying back to Brussels after your vacation has ended. It’s hard to believe this planet was formed under similar circumstances to Earth, making it a fascinating research topic for scientists trying to better understand planetary evolution. One thing that we can already conclude is that despite discussions on developing human settlements on the Moon (and potentially Mars), Venus remains low on the list of potential holiday destinations for the future. 

In case you haven’t had enough: 

Why does AI being good at math matter? [MIT Technology Review] 

Nightshade, the tool that ‘poisons’ data, gives artists a fighting chance against AI [TechCrunch] 

Scientists Just Discovered a New Type of Magnetism [WIRED] 

How to Read Leaked Datasets Like a Journalist [VICE] 

About this week’s guest editor, Josef Cutajar: 

I’m part of the communications team at SEC Newgate EU, helping clients make sense of the digital world, which is as fluid as ever. I’m Maltese and some of my hobbies include swimming which works better than the ‘do not disturb’ button on my phone, along with photography and hiking. I’ve also always been interested in the world of media and all its activities. If anything that I’ve just jotted down caught your eye, why not reach out? Happy to talk further!