BBC News and the Mail Online accounted for almost half of all time spent on news websites by UK adults during the general election.
Researchers at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism tracked the online news consumption of 1,711 British people aged 18 to 65 across mobile and desktop devices throughout the campaign, finding the Beeb made up 28 per cent of total time while the Mail accounted for 21 per cent.
Making up the rest of the top five for time spent on news websites during the election were the Guardian (seven per cent), the Mirror (six per cent), and the Sun (five per cent).
Small handful of news websites
The researchers said the figures showed the importance of a “small handful” of UK news websites and the “winner-takes-most” nature of the market.
The BBC repeatedly faced criticism throughout the election campaign, including over its failure to secure an interview with Johnson for Andrew Neil, despite the stalwart broadcaster having interviewed every other major party leader in the UK.
It was also forced to admit its mistakes in using archive footage of Johnson laying a wreath on Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph, which elicited 2,000 complaints, and editing out laughter directed at Johnson in a clip of a Question Time leaders’ special used in a news bulletin.
Despite this, more of the report’s respondents felt the BBC had done a good job with its election coverage than a bad job (43 per cent versus 14 per cent).
Limited time for news
The report, authored by researchers Nic Newman, Richard Fletcher and Anne Schulz, said: “Overall our tracking data remind us that people have busy lives, limited time for news, and that they tend to pay most attention at the start and end of a campaign.
“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. A third visited none of our designated news websites at all.
“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, much of it from those like the BBC with obligations to be impartial.
“We find little evidence that foreign websites or openly accessible partisan Facebook pages captured much attention online in this election.”
Read the full report here.