Millennials Want Hard News, Use Google to Find It

By Mark Joyella Comment

The American Press Institute has completed a broad study of millennials and their news consumption habits, and there’s encouraging–and challenging–news for cable and broadcast news.

Most importantly, millennials–branded by TIME as the “Me, Me, Me Generation” in a recent cover story–are not uninterested in news. In fact, they are hungry for it. But they have their own way of finding what they’re looking for, and sitting down to watch the evening news isn’t really the way they do it:

Virtually every one of these digitally native young adults surveyed and interviewed use a blend of paths to news, mixing social, search, aggregators, online-only news sites, and traditional reporting sources such as newspapers, television, and specialized media.

Millennials, the study concluded, prefer to seek out their own information–from trusted sources–on a variety of topics. They don’t go to trusted sources for a summary of the day’s news, but they do seek out stories to satisfy specific curiosity on a variety of topics:

Nearly all of these young adults follow what are traditionally considered “hard” news topics. The average Millennial follows about four hard news topics and 45 percent of Millennials follow 5 or more.

Millennials, the study found, will “dive deep” on a topic, but they won’t start with traditional news sources. Only 3% said they’d start with national TV. 4% said they’d start with local TV, and just 2% said a newspaper. The go-to starting point: Google. 57% start their deep dives with a search engine:

We also asked people in the qualitative interviews what makes them skeptical of sources. The notion that every source is biased surfaced repeatedly. This is a generation steeped in having to navigate information on their own. We heard over and over that there is a lot of material out there that people have discovered is unreliable, and often highly subjective.

Shelton, a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington, said, “I understand that no matter what, there will be a slight tinge of bias from anyone giving out the news. I feel like someone whose job it is to give the news [should] make sure there is the least possible amount of bias. And unfortunately, I don’t see that a lot, nowadays.”

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