Most millennials get their news online, study says
The average millennial now receives 74 percent of their daily news from online sources, according to the American Press Institute.
Alongside the transition from print news to online news, 2016 data shows a significant growth in people using social media platforms to collect information on political candidates and policies.
This shift has taken place steadily over the last five years, said Mary Chayko, teaching professor and director of Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Programs in the School of Communication and Information.
“The younger generation now tends to follow the news on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and on digital platforms like Youtube and reddit.” Chayko said. “They pay close attention to what their friends ‘like’ and recommend and are adept at discovering, finding and discussing news and issues online, usually accessed on mobile devices.”
Chayko said the content of news stories themselves have changed alongside the mediums they are portrayed on.
“For the first time, we’ve actually seen candidates' Twitter posts drive news coverage of the election and even become news themselves,” Chayko said.
Social media also allows untrained or “citizen journalists" to write and spread stories independently, she said. These types of stories can be released by publications like The Odyssey or Buzzfeed News that do not enforce journalistic standards.
The lack of formal training lends a degree of uncertainty to articles written by citizen journalists, Chayko said.
Online sources do not necessarily hold the same merit as those published by traditional media sources since it is easy for material to appear as news when it is actually unverified, untrue and highly biased, she said.
Orion Crandall, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior, said he does not trust social media because it promotes stories that people want to see rather than ones that are necessary and substantive.
“When you compare Facebook news to stories published on outlets like NPR or BBC, social media tends to be incredibly vague and shallow,” Crandall said. “You realize the people posting political views on social media aren’t paying close attention to what they’re voting for.”
Social media draws criticism for creating a “filter bubble” for users. When users obtain news from their feeds, they may only see stories that are popular among their friends, effectively shielding them from controversial or oppositional information, according to Fortune.
A study by the American Press Institute reported fewer than 25 percent of social media news consumers actually “trust” most of the content that they read online.
Social media is a primary news source for Alex Love, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, she said.
“On sites like Facebook, I’ve found that there are ways to distinguish between the trustworthy information and the untrustworthy stuff,” Love said. “Typically, if the story originates from a major news website that I’m familiar with then I’m more likely to trust its information.”
The refusal to accept “news” at face value is critical to the process of reading news online, Love said.
Even with the transition away from physical newspapers, some major publications like the New York times have managed to remain dominant and evolving, according to the Huffington Post. Journalistic publications have begun experimenting with advancements like visual storytelling, podcasting and virtual reality.
“Even taking into account how popular and engaging as social media is, I do not see it overtaking print journalism. Newer and more traditional forms of media often exist side by side.” Chayko said.
Anyone with access to the internet can cover the news and share and spread it these days, but it is difficult to replicate the journalistic integrity of major print publications, she said.
“What’s interesting is that even with all of these changes, millennials seem about as interested in politics as the generations that preceded them,” Chayko said. “With this being said, they often express their interest in ways that differ from their parents and grandparents generations.”
An example is that younger people are more likely to learn about and become involved in social movements and protests through social media-based information, she said.
Chayko said she hopes that online political involvement will convert into civic action in the 2016 election.
“Online news is clearly the norm among millennials. Hopefully, the high interest and news coverage will lead younger people to vote in greater numbers,” Chayko said. “I think and hope that they will want their voices heard in this election.”
Kira Herzog is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @kiraherzog1 for more.