Watching a 25-year-old walking down the street glued to his smartphone, you might assume that he’s looking at a frivolous Instagram post or passively scrolling through a Twitter feed. But millennials actually consume more news than it may appear on the surface.
A predominant myth about millennials—people ages 18 to 34—is that they are unengaged, with digitalization leading them to be more narrow-minded, inattentive and uninformed. Despite the fact that print newspapers are not a top source of news for millennials, 69 percent still get news every single day, according to the American Press Institute.
Despite the proliferation among this group of mobile, social and video platforms, it may come as a surprise that a recent Pew Research Center survey found that millennials are far more likely than older Americans to read their news (but still on their smartphones) instead of watch or listen to it. Fifty percent of 18- to 29-year-olds get their news online, and more and more turn to their phones for news.
Overall, 72 percent of Americans get news on a mobile device. Katie Wall, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate, reported in a recent Millennial Marketing article that she graduated from college without ever checking out a library book. She credits this fact to all the various tools on her smartphone. “There were multitudes of valuable resources at my finger tips that once required digging through books and microfiches.”
And with the world of smartphones comes the world of social networking. Based on research conducted by the Media Insight Project, “88 percent of millennials get news from Facebook regularly… and more than half of them do so daily.”
So what do millennials’ news consumption habits say about how we can continue to successfully reach them?
They want visualization. As Millennial Marketing points out, millennials’ tendency to scan through mass amounts of information leads to increased value of visual elements. They take in more information than any other generation, but it must be attractive to captivate their attention. As the article puts it, “this makes good design as important, if not more important, than good writing.”
They want instant gratification. Between ever-evolving smartphone technology and thousands of social media sites, this generation lives in a world of fast-paced information. Mobile and social allow for accessible sources of news to exist at our fingertips. But that information must be mobile responsive and minimize load times.
They want short sound bites. Millennials are more likely to read the news instead of watching it, but because of the fast-paced lifestyles they lead, news needs to be short and to the point. If they want to delve deeper into a story, providing links to more information is a good way to provide this option. This is one of the reasons social media platforms are such a popular source for news.
The stereotypical millennial lifestyle—glued to smartphones and immersed in social media—is often assumed to be detracting from human engagement. However, millennials have good news consumption habits, albeit utilizing different mediums. With the multitudes of technologies, resources and platforms available today, if used effectively, news consumption should continue on its upward trajectory.
Emma Benninghoff is a student and former communications intern at News Media Alliance.