how Millennials get news

Here are some tidbits from How Millennials Get News: Inside the habits of America’s first digital generation, released today by the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The sample was 1,046 adults between the ages of 18 and 34.

  • 85% “Say keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them.”
  • Their three most common online activities are email, checking the weather or travel information, and “keeping up with what’s going on in the world,” which 68% do at least daily.
  • More than half (57%) say they followed the news to be informed citizens. Tied at 53% are two other reasons: finding the news entertaining and liking to talk to other people about the news. These recreational/social motivations must be considered when trying to expand the audience for news.
  • Of the news topics that they follow, national politics comes 9th (with 43% following it) and “city, town and neighborhood” comes 11th. At the top of the list are news about pop culture (66%), hobbies (61%) and traffic and weather (51%).
  • Most turn to professional news sources for serious topics, from national politics and local news to crime and health. For religion and faith and social issues, they go to social media.
  • 40% have a paid news subscription, and nearly 30% have a print newspaper subscription (if you combine people who subscribe themselves with those who benefit from someone else’s subscription).
  • About 36% have delved deeply recently into a hard news topic, such as national politics. When they do that, overwhelmingly they search the web for information. Only 7% go to Facebook and 4% to Wikipedia.
  • 70% say that they see opinions that both confirm and challenge their own views on social media. I don’t think we can tell whether they are seeing truly diverse views or only views that diverge in some respects from their own.
  • Those who are less active seekers of news are more likely to encounter diverse views. It may be that people who are most engaged with the news also tend to be ideological and go to trusted sources, in contrast to people who just “bump into the news” through social contacts. The latter, then, are more likely to see views that challenge their own. (This finding is consistent with the inverse relationship between diversity and engagement that we also see in the work of Diana Mutz, David Campbell, and Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and me.)