Last of the millennials

19+ Worldview survey: Young people do read newspapers, and books too

Temasek Polytechnic mass communications student Kieran Desker, who plans a career making films, says he reads newspapers online every day. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Temasek Polytechnic mass communications student Kieran Desker, who plans a career making films, says he reads newspapers online every day. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

To say that young people do not read newspapers is, quite simply, not true.

A survey of more than 1,000 19-year-olds showed that more than half of them read newspapers.

Nearly one-third of respondents said they read e-newspapers, while a fifth said they read print versions.

About 48 per cent said they read fiction books. And, between them, those who read books and newspapers are more likely to hold stronger opinions on domestic and international issues, the survey by The Straits Times, in partnership with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, found.

Those from the junior college, Integrated Programme and International Baccalaureate track reported significantly higher readership of fiction and non-fiction books, e-books and e-newspapers, blogs and online reviews, than their peers.

Asked about whether laws should be changed - such as those on gay rights and enlistment - they were also the ones more likely to say yes.

The most significant effect of reading habits on personal views was seen with those who reported reading e-newspapers. Temasek Polytechnic mass communications student Kieran Desker, who plans a career making films, reads newspapers online every day.

 
 
 

"I hop through several news sites though the day reading stories on topics that interest me," he said.

"It is an easy way to keep yourself up to date with what's happening around the world."

Assistant Professor Saifuddin Ahmed from Nanyang Technological University's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information said there is a link between being informed and opinionated.

"Acquiring information either through mass media or through our social networks - friends, family, acquaintances - increases our knowledge about civic issues, which in turn increases the likelihood to express our opinions," said Prof Saifuddin, whose academic interests include civic engagement and public opinion.

He added that many younger adults are moving online to get their news, with empirical evidence in the last few years suggesting that using online platforms and social media for news consumption encourages expressive behaviour.

He said: "The new online information environment facilitates a diverse information atmosphere which can encourage civic and political discussions."

Mr Warren Fernandez, editor of The Straits Times and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: "It's often said, loosely, that young people don't read the newspapers. Frankly, that's a bit of fake news. Our own data shows that our audience on our website, app and social media is mostly under 30.

"Our digital readership continues to grow. And with our new multimedia efforts, we are working hard to keep engaging this younger audience."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline 'Young people do read newspapers, and books too'. Print Edition | Subscribe