12 Truths About How Millennials Consume News

The Media Insight Project released a report this week on how consume news. The Associated Press, one of the report’s sponsors, heralded the data as proof that millennials aren’t as disengaged as their stereotype might suggest. But some of this may be wishful thinking on the part of journalists who wish to see more engagement from the next generation. The data contained in the report is a mixed bag of positive and negative information. Here are some of the highlights about how America’s favorite punching-bag generation consumes :

Google News website screenshot

1.) 4 IN 10 SAY NEWS IS VERY IMPORTANT IN THEIR LIVES: This statistic is the one the story calls proof that Millennials aren’t as disengaged as first thought. However, while they may be more engaged than we thought, we’re still looking at 40 percent who believe the news of the day is of high importance to them. This isn’t exactly the number one would want to see when talking about an informed citizenry.

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2.) WHAT THEY CALL “NEWS” ISN’T: The number one topic of news that millennials regularly follow is Entertainment. Hobbies comes second, followed by traffic and weather, then sports. Crime and public safety is the highest rated “hard news” topic among millennials, and less than 50 percent say they follow that topic regularly. Less than 45 percent regularly follow national politics and local news garners just over 40 percent of their attention. Just over 30 percent say they regularly follow news about education and schools. Also, you might not want to look to the millennials for business acumen. Less than 30 percent regularly read business stories, about the same number that make the arts a top priority.

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3.) EDUCATION NEWS MAY NOT BE EDUCATED: When Millennials do encounter news about schools and education, they receive it mostly by word of mouth. So, not only are they not seeking news about issues related to education, when they do it runs a higher risk of being inaccurate or hearsay.

I wear my newspaper hat

4.) THEY ARE HARDLY INTO HARD NEWS: Only 45 percent of millennials follow five or more “hard news” topics regularly. Again, this may mean that they are more engaged than they appear, but it is still less than half.

Google Logo Search

5.) THEY KNOW HOW TO SEARCH: While most millennials get their news from sources like social , when they want to dig deeper into a topic or issue, they turn to search engines.  57 percent of millennials use search engines to learn more about news topics they have already been exposed to, as opposed to 27 percent who turn to news websites as a primary source of more information. The study also notes that millennials find search engines to be the most effective means of digging deeper.

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6.) THEY KNOW HOW TO SPOT A GOOD SOURCE: Despite their reliance on Google to find sources of information, millennials don’t believe everything they read on the Internet (a fate that has befallen your gullible grandma.) The majority of millennials say they prefer sources that they know and sources that are transparent and contain links to source material.

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7.) NEWS IS FREE: The majority of millennials do not have a subscription to a news-specific service, app, or digital source. However, 40 percent of them do, which correlates to the number of millennials who said news has a high level of importance in their lives.

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8.) THEY AREN’T OPPOSED TO SUBSCRIPTIONS: While millennials don’t prefer to pay for a news subscription, the majority of millennials do pay for subscription services. Movies, television, music and video games top the list of subscription services millennials pay for, but some results are surprising. Millennials are more likely to pay for print versions of newspapers and magazines than they are to pay for digital versions.

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9.) SOCIAL MEDIA IN AND OF ITSELF ISN’T A NEWS SOURCE: According to the study, millennials are tiring of Facebook and feel that it and other social networks are filled with useless or inaccurate information. There is evidence from this survey that millennials make efforts to verify the information their friends and other networks share with them rather than believing it wholesale.

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey - 3D Icons

10.) THEY PLAY BOTH SIDES: Contrary to popular belief, Millennials don’t fall into the trap of only consuming news that agrees with or confirms their own viewpoint. According to the study, 73 percent said they investigate views other than their own at least some of the time.

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11.) THEY PARTICIPATE IN NEWS: Nearly 60 percent of Millennials say they regularly “like” a news story on Facebook, 42 percent say they regularly share news stories on social media and 34 percent say they regularly comment on news stories. They are able to engage with the news more than previous generations and they are taking advantage of that.

NY Snowing - Storm Watch

12.) THEY EXPECT MORE: Millennials might be more engaged as an audience if they trusted the news media more. The study reveals that they are looking for the news sources to tell them the truth about their world rather than focusing on polarizing issues and alarmist topics. They are not drawn to sensationalized stories or “fear-mongering” tactics. They also say they are tired of click-bait, though the study doesn’t delve into whether or not it works on them.

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