Not many Millennials are regular readers of newspapers, but those that do consider themselves to be most informed.
Satire, playwright George S. Kaufman once observed, is what closes on Saturday night. Today, it is taking the lead in communicating the news. A recent University of Pennsylvania study suggested that the “Colbert Report’s” takes on campaign financing were more effective than most beat reporters. John Oliver, host of the HBO series, “Last Week Tonight” has carved an increasingly buzzworthy niche with its original reporting on such topics as net neutrality and the Miss America pageant’s sketchy scholarship claims.
It has become something of a cliché that Millennials’ prime source for news is “The Daily Show,” but a new study takes the question more seriously, and while digital sites are found to continue to be the primary source for news for young adults, they are not the source that makes them feel as informed.
Just over one-third of surveyed Millennials ages 18-24 years-old report that online-only news sites are their primary news source. In comparison, just 3.1 percent cite traditional newspapers and 4.5 percent broadcast television.
Other primary news sources include:
- Traditional news media website (21.8 percent)
- Facebook links (14 percent)
- Twitter links (9.9)
The survey was conducted among readers and followers of the Millennial-focused Elite Daily website, and analyzed by the Millennial Research Core (MRC), the research arm of The Agency, a unit of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, in partnership with Elite Daily.
“Even though the overwhelming majority of young adults are turning to digital sources for news, there is still a perception by some that they are better informed through traditional media,” Diane McFarlin, dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications, said in a statement. “Still, legacy media – including newspapers, broadcast TV and cable news – face significant challenges in attracting this demographic.”
More than half of young adults who prefer traditional news sites said they were “very informed,” a rating chosen by only four out of every 10 who prefer online-only news sites. Yet online-only news is the primary source of news for nearly 35 percent, compared to 22 percent for traditional news sites.
Overall, nearly four-in-ten respondents feel very informed vs. 59 percent who said they were somewhat informed. A small percent responded that they were not interested in current events or civic issues.
But while they are not the news sources of choice, traditional news sources give the small group of Millennials who consult them feel more confident in their grasp of current events. Consumers of print newspapers were most likely to say they feel informed (67 percent), while about 56 percent of those whose primary news sources are traditional media websites felt very informed.
Four-in-ten of respondents who get their news online only said they feel very informed, followed by:
- Search engines (33 percent)
- Twitter links (32.5 percent)
- Broadcast TV (32 percent),
- All-news cable channels (29 percent)
- Facebook links (24 percent)
- Other social networks (15 percent).
- Other sources (35 percent)
These results correlate with a surveyed conducted last month among affluent households by Spectrem Group’s Millionaire Corner which found that the youngest respondents (under 40) considered television, newspapers and magazines to be the most significant sources of information. At the same time, they (along with seniors, surprisingly) were more likely than previous generations to consult online magazines and blogs.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.