Commentary

Social Media Now Dominant News Source For Young Adults

This week brought yet more data confirming that social media is now one of the main sources of news for many consumers in the U.S. and around the world. The latest study comes from the Reuters Institute, whose global Digital News Report for 2016 shows that social media has supplanted print and radio as news sources around the world, surpassing TV among younger consumers.

The Reuters survey of around 53,000 online respondents found that roughly half -- 55% of females and 48% of males -- get news from social media at least once a week. That compares to 44% of men and 38% of women for print news sources, and 41% and 33% for radio, respectively. TV was still more popular than social media, with 75% of men and 73% of women tuning in once a week, although online news from all sources (including social media) was the most popular of all, cited by 83% of men and 82% of women.

Breaking these results down by age reveals a dramatically different picture, however. Over two-thirds (68%) of respondents of both genders ages 18 to 24 said they get news from social media once a week versus 58% for TV, 31% for print, and just 24% for radio – making social media the dominant news source for this generation.

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The proportion was slightly lower -- but still high -- for respondents ages 25-34, with 59% of this age group getting news from social media once a week, almost even with TV at 63% and nearly double print and radio, at 33% and 30%, respectively. Social media was also a top news source for respondents ages 35-44, with 53% getting news weekly, compared to 37% for print and 35% for radio.

Furthermore, social media is now the most important news source for many younger consumers, with 28% of respondents ages 18-24 saying they consider it their “main source of news,” compared to 24% for TV.

Among U.S. respondents of all ages, the proportion getting news from social media at least once a week has almost doubled from 26% in 2013 to 46% in 2016. Reuters found a similar rapid increase in the number of people getting news from social media in the EU.

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