Commentary

Social Media Drives News Consumption For Millennials

Lambasting younger generations seems to be an American pastime -- but in the words of The Who (a pioneering British rock band, for our younger readers) “the kids are alright.”

Indeed, while curmudgeonly types often criticize Millennials as being uninformed and uninterested in the news, they’re actually heavily engaged with current events -- and social media plays a key role in how they get their information.   

That’s according to the latest report from the Media Insight Project, a joint effort from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute. Overall, 88% of Millennials surveyed for the MIP say that they get news from Facebook regularly, with a little over half getting news from Facebook daily. However, just 47% say that getting news is a primary motivation for visiting Facebook -- suggesting that Facebook is actually helping raise awareness and interest in current events. In fact, Millennials cited Facebook as their top way to get news for over half of major news and information topics (13 out of 24).

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Nor is social media the “echo chamber” that some critics have alleged, with users self-sorting so they only see opinions they agree with. On that note, 86% of Millennials surveyed for the MIP said they usually see a range of opinions on social media, and 73% said social media prompts them to investigate opinions held by other people at least some of the time. However, they tend to turn to other channels when conducting further research, with online search the most popular follow-up method, cited by 57%.

Overall, 85% of Millennials say staying up on news is important to them, and 69% said they get news daily, regardless of the specific source. Eighty-two percent said they get most of their news from online sources, and some of them value news enough to shell out, with 40% paying for at least one news-specific service or app. Interestingly, social factors are actually driving news consumption as well, with 67% of Millennials saying the stay up on news to be able to talk about it with friends.

Turning to news categories, like most older adults, Millennials tend to consume a mix of hard news, lifestyle news, and practical “news you can use,” with 45% saying they follow five or more “hard news” topics. In terms of devices, fully 90% of Millennials said they own a smartphone or tablet, but only half of Millennials said they are online most or all of the day.

 
2 comments about "Social Media Drives News Consumption For Millennials".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 17, 2015 at 4:37 p.m.

    I watched a live "survey" of college students being reported on by one of the cable channels a while ago, where these 18-24s were asked who attacked the U.S. on 9/11. A few got it right but most didn't, guessing it was North Korea, China or Russia. Makes you wonder about the quality of the "news" they are getting from their favorite sources----doesn't it?

  2. Neil Aronson from ListenFirst Media, March 19, 2015 at 9:37 a.m.

    There's plenty of "news" on Facebook, but for the most part it replicates the way people talking about the news in conversation, with exciting headlines spread by word of mouth. I'm a bit skeptical that Facebook encourages us millennials to actually read more full articles on serious news sites. It probably is just a bunch of people seeing "trending" news stories with a brief headline and subtitle attached.
    As always, it would be great to get a link to the original study/article.

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