Young adults feel most informed with traditional media

Young adults feel most informed with traditional media

By Jessica Martinez, NAA Communications Project Coordinator

For more details, please visit the article at the Newspaper Association of America site here

It is no surprise that millennials get the bulk of their news through social media, blogs and online-only sources.

But despite the amount of information online, many between the ages of 18 and 24 do not feel they are well-informed on current issues, according to a recent study.

The survey, conducted by Elite Daily with the help from a research group at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, found that those who consume news using print newspapers and traditional media sites feel most informed.

 Diane McFarlin

“This survey validates both the journalistic standards of traditional media and the dominance of new digital channels for distribution of news and information,” said Diane McFarlin, dean of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

The study found that nearly 35 percent of adults ages 18-24 use online-only news sites as their preferred source of news, compared with about 22 percent who use traditional media sites. Other data revealed that about 67 percent of the respondents surveyed feel “very informed” when they get their news through newspapers, while 56 percent who use traditional news sites reported the same.

About 40 percent noted they were “somewhat informed” when seeking news through online-only news.

McFarlin notes that this data also implies the value of traditional news brands as premium news publishers is still strong.

“While traditional media are holding the attention of a relative small percentage of millennial consumers of news, this young adult audience’s recognition of quality content suggests a niche for legacy news organizations,” said McFarlin.

The reason why some millennials might prefer traditional news sites over online-only sources has to do with the difference in the newsgathering process, said McFarlin. In addition, she notes that traditional news sites tend to provide more in-depth local news coverage than other mediums.

Millennials are also attracted to the engaging aspect of digital news, which is why the majority favor online-only news sites.

“This survey tends to affirm ventures like NYT Digital and Vox that are seeking to mix classic journalism with cutting-edge technology and accessibility,” said McFarlin. “But it also speaks to the diversity of content from sites such as BuzzFeed and Vice, which are offering young adults very engaging experiences.”

While the survey does not indicate that social media sites are millennials’ primary new sources, McFarlin said she is aware that Facebook and Twitter are major sources of news information, as other research also suggests.

Although the widely held belief is that millennials are not active news consumers, the study found that overall, 38 percent of respondents felt very informed versus 59 percent who said they were somewhat informed.

This survey also affirms some of the data revealed in a recent study conducted by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Their study found that adults ages 18-34 make it a priority to be civically minded and remain informed by relying on news through digital and print outlets. They also get their daily dose of hard news by directly seeking it or through social connections.

Furthermore, their interest in news runs broad as nearly half of those surveyed reported that they follow at least 10 topics of any kind on a regular basis.

In this recent survey by the Elite Daily and the University of Florida, the more important issues young adults tend to keep up with are on the protection of the environment, equal rights, poverty, health care and more.

Despite the majority of young adults turning to digital-only news outlets, McFarlin believes newspapers have a chance to engage millennials.

“This research suggests that the strength of content, partnered with the right channels, can connect with millennials who have a heartier appetite for credible news,” said McFarlin.

McFarlin and her team are exploring partnerships with media companies that want to experiment with new strategies to engage millennials, some of which include creative content approaches and leveraging new technology platforms.