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Young consumers may stumble onto news, but they know what they trust when they see it

March 14, 2017 | By Rande Price, Research Director—DCN @Randeloo

New patters of content consumption are emerging from the way teens and young adults access news. It’s not surprising that both smartphones and social media usage play a large role here. According to the James L. Knight Foundation’s new qualitative research, How Youth Navigates the News Landscape, young consumers don’t follow the news as much as it follows them. In fact, young adults often happen upon news content by accident and then share it on social media and messaging apps.

Findings from the Knight analysis include:

  • Most teens and young adults express little trust in the news media. They often seek out multiple resources to confirm information that is read.
  • Young people see today’s news as something that is often created outside of traditional journalism channels. In fact, what is defined as news among young consumers includes social media, aggregators, messaging apps, and user-generated content.
  • Young news consumers express much doubt about the accuracy of the news and assume that some level of bias is unavoidable in much of the information they encounter.
  • Social media plays a significant role in how news is disseminated in today’s marketplace. Young consumers are exposes to varying degrees of news quality as well as biasness.
  • Facebook leads as the primary social media news source.
  • Young consumers think of user-generated content, especially live video accounting of events, to be more truthful than traditional news outlets.
  • Young adults see most of the news as depressing and sad.

While the research speaks to young consumers’ lack of confidence in news content in general, it also speaks their high levels of trust in specific news brands. Importantly, news outlets should provide clear branding and identification as it aids in informing the younger audience of the information’s accuracy.

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