Gen Z & Millennials Have Very Different News Sources

Gen Z & Millennials Have Very Different News Sources

Gen Z and Millennials are not getting their news in the same places, and the younger generation is fueling new platforms as news sources…

It has been a year of historic headlines, and 2020 is changing the way that young consumers get their news. YPulse’s latest news consumption and trust survey found evidence of some serious news burnout, as well as growing mistrust in news sources. But we also found some distinct and increasing differences in where Gen Z and Millennials get their news.

Of course, it’s not news that they’re getting their news from social platforms—social media has been the top news source for Millennials for some time. But now, Gen Z is actually outpacing the older generation in their social media news consumption. When we ask what sources these young consumers use to get news and information, Gen Z is now more likely than Millennials to say social media:

The number of Gen Zs who say they get their news from social media is actually increasing, from 58% in 2019 to 68% this year. Meanwhile, our recent survey found only 50% of Millennials currently claim to get their news from social media—that’s a drop from 65% in 2019. There are likely several factors at play here: the change in their routines and increased time at home is shifting some of their news consumption to other sources, while their wariness of fake news on social platforms changes their likelihood to view them as true sources. Of course, social is still their top named source; but Millennials are also more likely than Gen Z to get their news in other ways, including news emails and online-only publications.

What’s even more stark is the difference in how many consider social media their primary news source: 47% of Gen Z says it’s their primary source for news, compared to just 28% of Millennials. This still puts social media far and above all other news sources among both groups, but underlines the major differences in how these generations are using these platforms.

But that’s not where the differences end. Gen Z and Millennials who use social media as a news source are also looking to very different platforms:

Gen Z is fueling the use of new social spaces as news sources. The younger generation is far more likely than Millennials to use Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and, yes, TikTok, to get their news. Recently, Reuters Institute reported that Instagram is set to overtake Twitter as the top news source among young consumers with 75% of under-25-year-olds saying they use the platform for news. But we’ve been tracking Instagram as Gen Z’s top social news source for some time, and our data clearly shows that among this younger generation many other platforms already outpace Twitter as news sources. One thing that ties their top social news sources together is video—the apps that they’re using for news the most are all video-first platforms, and Gen Z is far more likely to say that they keep up with news via video (66%) over text (34%). Conversely, Millennials are still more likely to say they keep up with news via text (59%) over video (41%).

So, it would make some sense that the top social platform that Millennials use for news is still Facebook—and Gen Z just isn’t following their lead. Instead, they’re getting their news where they are getting their entertainment. As we mentioned, trust could be playing a role in Millennials’ slow-down on using social media as a primary news source—and in fact, Gen Z is far more likely to trust the news that they see on many social platforms:

Gen Z is more likely than Millennials to say they trust news from YouTube and Instagram (TikTok was not included in this question), while Millennials are more likely than the younger gen to say they trust news on Reddit and Facebook. Their relative trust in these sources is likely determining their news behavior, increasing the differences between where Gen Z and Millennials get their news.

Regardless, the takeaway for brands trying to reach Gen Z is clear: the video-centric platforms they spend the most time on are the ones that they trust, and that’s where your content needs to live.