In turbulent times for news, what are the sources that young consumers are looking to? We asked 13-34-year-olds the one source they turn to the most to find out…
There’s little question that Millennials and Gen Z are changing the way that news is consumed. In our recent survey on news sources and preferences, we asked 1000 13-34-year-olds what sources they use to get news and up-to-date information: 54% say social media, compared to 34% who say a local TV news show, 32% who say website for a print newspaper, and 30% who say a national television news show. Business Insider reports that younger consumers are getting their daily news via digital sources, while older demos’ main news source is decidedly more old school: TV. A chart of primary news sources divided by age groups reads like a roller coaster drop between digital and TV, putting the divide between age groups in perspective.
Ypulse’s research shows that 50% of 13-34-year-olds (58% of 13-17-year-olds) say that they don’t need to seek out news, they find things out naturally—and according to qualitative research by The Knight Foundation, 14-24-year-olds in the U.S. mostly consume news “by accident” while perusing social media platforms or apps. This may be why they view all news they see as biased or inaccurate, and will check other reputable sources to verify information. Looking at multiple sources to confirm and fact check stories has become their norm—which makes knowing what sources they turn to the most all the more interesting. In a turbulent time for news—over half say they have been fooled by a fake news story—what news sources are they looking at regularly? We asked Millennials and Gen Z, “What is the one source that you turn to for news the most?”* to find out—and here are the 15 they mentioned most:
*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of news sources that Millennials and Gen Z turn to—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.
What Sources Do They Turn to For News the Most?
- The New York Times
- Local news channel / site / app
- Google / Google News
- The Washington Post
- The Skimm
- Apple News
While social media might be the place they’re using most to get information and news overall, when it comes to the individual news sources they say they’re turning to most, CNN and The New York Times top the list. One note: almost all of the news sources listed below include a combination of mentions of their apps, sites, and traditional channels. While CNN’s continued spot at the top of this list might surprise some, cable news networks are reportedly experiencing a Millennial viewer surge. According to Nielsen data, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News have all seen a significant growth in 18-34-year-olds in 2017. Election seasons have historically given cable news boosts in viewership, but now all three of these networks are seeing “unprecedented post-election success.” The fact that respondents name these more traditional sources when relaying the sources they’re turning to most also indicates their own higher esteem for them. They’re more likely to say they turn to sources they themselves see as trustworthy, and worthy of their time.
Of course, Twitter and Facebook are second and third on the list—which is where these news source conversations get complicated. When Millennials and Gen Z say they’re getting news from social media, much of what they’re talking about is a feed of stories and posts from a variety of news sources—likely including CNN, The New York Times, local news, Fox, etc. They’re all curated on social media thanks to peer-sharing, and algorithms. But often the actual sources of these stories is secondary in memory to the fact that they saw it on a platform like Facebook or Twitter, as we see here.
That’s not to discount digital sources—there is plenty of evidence on this list alone that purely digital news outlets are growing in popularity with young consumers. BuzzFeed and The Skimm both make the top 15, and the top 20 list includes YouTube and Philip DeFranco, a YouTuber who has a show on current events.
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