Twenty-Somethings Share What Would Get Them to Pay for News

Study highlights opportunities for news outlets to attract Gen Z subscribers.


Arlington, VA – The group of twenty-somethings comprising Generation Z grew up with the Internet and get their news primarily on social media. However, findings from qualitative and quantitative research from the News Media Alliance, released today, indicate that there are opportunities for news outlets – especially local news outlets – to position their products with Gen Z consumers to attract them as readers and potential subscribers.

About half of Gen Z consumers (51 percent) report reading news daily. The majority (60 percent) say they would be likely to use local news products, while one-third (33 percent) say they would be likely to pay for local news. Not surprising, twenty-somethings prefer to get news online via social media apps and web searches rather than in print, and they want to “snack” on news that has been customized to their preferences throughout the day. Motivators to subscribe to local news outlets include free trials and special content targeted to them.

When it comes to attracting this tech-savvy demographic, meeting them where they are is key. The findings show the times of day Gen Z users are likely to be on various social media platforms, representing optimal times for news outlets to post content that will engage these readers. For example, twenty-somethings are more likely to be on Facebook (42 percent) in the morning than other apps, shifting to other social media platforms later in the day.

“The findings from the study are exciting in terms of the opportunities they present for news outlets. Gen Z places an emphasis on credible, accurate and fact-checked news, which is exactly what our members provide,” said Rebecca Frank, News Media Alliance vice president, research and insights. “News outlets that apply the insights in this report will have a distinct advantage over other content providers because the quality of their content already meets Gen Z’s expectations. By providing the content these readers care about – when, where and how they want it – they will be best equipped to meet Gen Z’s needs.”

Gen Z wants to see themselves reflected in their news, and they want to feel acknowledged. They prize authenticity, family and voting foremost, followed by important social causes to them such as social justice/civil rights/racial discrimination (54%), environment/climate change (50%), and women’s rights (50%), among others. Other content that this group wants includes financial advice, health and wellness, and career. For local news, they are interested in weather, events/arts and entertainment, and other news about their town.

While twenty-somethings want credible news, they also don’t want it to be boring. Striking visuals, video and an easy-to-navigate app and site will be more likely to draw these readers in.

Frank continued, “Gen Z are up-and-coming news subscribers, and news outlets must be prepared to up their game to attract and keep them as loyal readers. It’s not just about the news; it has to be the whole package.”

The full report, exclusively for News Media Alliance members, contains additional data points, visuals, verbatims, examples, and actionable tips, ideas and insights at:

Survey Methodology: The News Media Alliance commissioned Springboard Market Research to conduct quantitative and qualitative research with U.S. adults ages 18-29 to gain insight into the news consumption and habits of twenty-somethings. For the qualitative study, 20 hour-long telephone interviews were conducted with participants living in 20 key media markets. The participants represented a mix of gender and race/ethnicity. The quantitative market survey was conducted among 424 Gen Z consumers ages 21-29, evenly split between 21-24 and 25-29, and approximately census-representative ethnicity for this age cohort.


Media Contact:
Lindsey Loving
Director, Communications

The News Media Alliance is a nonprofit organization representing more than 2,000 news organizations and their multiplatform businesses in the United States and globally. Alliance members include print, digital and mobile publishers of original news content. Headquartered just outside Washington, D.C., the association focuses on ensuring the future of news media through communication, research, advocacy and innovation. Information about the News Media Alliance (formerly NAA) can be found at


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