Study: Social Media Overtakes TV as Main Source of News for 18-24

By Steve Safran 


The 18-24 crowd has used the internet as its primary source for news for several years. Now it is specifying “social media” as its main source of news, with that niche overtaking television for the first time.

The information comes from a study done by The Oxford University Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. It looked at consumers of news and information around the world for its “Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2016.” This is the fifth year it has issued such a report. It’s a fascinating read.

28 percent of 18-24 year-olds say social media is their main source of news, compared to 24 percent who cite television:


social news

Since 2013, the number of people in the US who say they get their news from social media has doubled—46 percent now use social media for news:

social takes over

A lot of news sites are ramping up their development of video, betting on it as a growth strategy. Ad revenue is better on video. But the study finds the news audience isn’t so keen on seeing video. More than three-quarters still rely on text. Many find video inconvenient, with 35 percent citing pre-roll  advertisements as an annoyance. News tends to be consumed at work—and the person in the cubicle next to you isn’t always thrilled to hear the full-blast volume of a Geico ad.

When it comes to social media, Facebook rules the roost for sharing news. 44 percent of the survey respondents say they use Facebook for news, compared to just 10 percent from Twitter. 19 percent use YouTube for news. Snapchat, which is new to the news game, only registered one percent.

We love to share news. A quarter of us share news via social media at least once a week. An interesting note: people in the US generally share stories they approve of, but people in the UK are more likely to share stories about things they don’t like. Read into national character what you will.

What do social media news users want most? Breaking news. And this year, for the first time, the study tracked users of smart watches. They, too, want breaking news most on their device.

The study is dense and well worth a read. The audience keeps shifting, and the only thing that’s predictable is that it gets more social and more fragmented.

(Images: Courtesy The Oxford University Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism)