Young adults want news, not the newspaper: study

WASHINGTON (AFP) - America's young adults want news, but few want to read a newspaper. And most stumble onto news while on Facebook or other social networks.

Those are among the findings of a survey released Monday of 18- to 34-year-olds by a project of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research.

Some 85 per cent of "millennials" surveyed said that keeping up with news is important to them and 69 per cent said they get news daily.

The researchers said the study appears to allay concerns that young adults are apathetic about the world around them.

The millennial generation "spends more time on social networks, often on mobile devices. The worry is that millennials' awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow", the authors said.

But the findings showed "that this newest generation of American adults is anything but 'newsless', passive or civically uninterested". The study found that young adults don't get news in the same way as their parents and grandparents.

"This generation tends not to consume news in discrete sessions or by going directly to news providers," the report said.

"Instead, news and information are woven into an often continuous but mindful way that millennials connect to the world generally, which mixes news with social connection, problem solving, social action and entertainment."

Much of the news young adults get is from social networks such as Facebook, even though they often go to these platforms for other reasons.

Just 39 per cent said they went online to seek out news or information and 60 per cent said they "mostly bump into news" during unrelated online activity, the report said.

As a result, Facebook has become a key source of news for the 18-to-34 generation: some 88 per cent said they get news from the social network regularly.

Some 47 per cent said they got most of their news on national politics and government from Facebook, 62 per cent said the social network was their primary source for news on social issues and 41 per cent for international news.

Facebook was the top source of news for 13 of 24 news topics, the survey found.

The report said these social news consumers are often drawn into topics they might otherwise have ignored because peers are recommending and commenting on them.

Despite the notion that social media creates a polarising "filter bubble," some 70 percent of millennials said their social media feeds are comprised of diverse viewpoints - evenly mixed between those who agree and disagree with them.

The survey offers a bleak outlook for traditional media like newspapers hoping to boost paid subscribers.

Just 12 per cent of the respondents said they paid for a print newspaper subscription in the past year, while another 13 per cent said they read a newspaper for which someone else pays.

Just 7 per cent in the survey said they paid for a digital subscription to a newspaper.

The authors said many of the respondents felt they should not have to pay for news.

"We heard the notion that, because news is important for democracy, people feel they should not have to pay for it," the study said. "It should be more of a civic right because it is a civic good."

The report is based on a survey of 1,046 young adults between Jan 5 and Feb 2, with a margin of error estimated at 3.8 percentage points.