Millennials would prefer to sign in to their Facebook account instead of turning on the television, opening a newspaper or powering up the radio for their political news, says a new study.
Millennials Consuming the News from Facebook
The Pew Research Center recently released the results of a 2014 online survey that looked at Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 and how they receive their political news. What’s the result? Well, they’re a lot different than their Baby Boomer counterparts.
As Boomer consumers continue to get their political news predominantly from local television stations and national news networks, millennials are relying primarily on Facebook. Generation Xers are split between Facebook and local TV.
Surprisingly, millennials aren’t depending too much on Twitter for their news fix; just 14 percent of millennials use tweets as a source of news information.
|Millennials||Generation X||Baby Boomers|
Facebook: 61 percent
CNN: 44 percent
Local TV: 37 percent
Google News: 33 percent
ABC News: 32 percent
Facebook: 51 percent
Local TV: 46 percent
CNN: 45 percent
Fox News: 36 percent
NBC News: 35 percent
Local TV: 60 percent
NBC News: 47 percent
Fox News: 47 percent
ABC News: 44 percent
CNN: 43 percent
"When it comes to where younger Americans get news about politics and government, social media look to be the local TV of the millennial generation,” said Amy Mitchell, Pew Research Center director of journalism research, in a statement. "We are only beginning to understand the complex interactions of personal choice, friend networks and algorithms in the social media space. As the research continues, these data suggest there are fundamental differences in the ways younger and older generations stay informed about political news.”
Don’t be fooled, though. Just because millennials are reading about the news on Facebook, it doesn’t mean they’re actively interested. According to the report, just 26 percent of millennials ranked political news in their top three personal interests.
When millennials do look for news, however, they ostensibly search for unbiased reporting. Eighteen percent of millennials search for news that match their political viewpoints. This is lower than the 31 percent of Baby Boomers.
Although millennials are utilizing the Internet for their news intake, Pew’s findings suggest that most millennials are unaware of various online political news outlets. For instance, half of the 36 news sources on the survey list were identified as "less familiar" to millennials. The Drudge Report, Politico and Slate were the least recognizable websites to millennials.
Furthermore, all three generations trusted about 40 percent of the news sources placed on the 36-source list. Twenty percent distrusted them, including BuzzFeed and The Glenn Beck Program.
Facebook Is a Major Player in News Media
Ever since the 2008 presidential election, Facebook has become a major player in the news publishing industry. Media outlets, too, are relying on Facebook to generate significant web traffic, and a growing number have started to publish their news stories directly on the social network.
Indeed, many journalists are skeptical of the increasing partnership between news publishing and Facebook. But most reporters are just accepting of the relationship with Facebook since it has an enormous reach.
As news publishers face a difficult path – declining readership, diminishing advertising revenues, and falling budgets – they realize that Facebook can be a savior, particularly when looking at this figure: 890 million people visit the website on a mobile device daily.
To older Americans, news published on Facebook may seem dubious and questionable. To younger Americans, it has become the new source of news. We can certainly question the news posted on the social media outlet, but the silver lining is that at least it may encourage millennials to be politically engaged.
It may make us shudder, however, that perhaps Mark Zuckerberg is the new Edward R. Murrow.