Don’t expect to find ink on the fingers of many in the Millennial generation. They’re not reading newspapers — at least, not the “old-fashioned” print versions. Much to the chagrin of my friends in traditional media (i.e., newspapers, TV news), much of this generation is not reading and watching news the way older generations do.
But maybe that’s OK.
Members of the Millennial generation still want news. And they still need newspapers and credible sources to provide it.
According to the Media Insight Project, this new generation of adults age 18 to 36 are going to social media in large numbers to find news, share stories, and offer opinions about the information they read.
Eighty-five percent of the Millennials said keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them, and 69 percent of this group said they get news daily.
The news they read is meshed with social connection. Their news is part of a continuous feed of entertainment, opinion and editorials, as well as posts and updates from friends, family and others.
Millennials are going to Facebook to find news on a regular basis, and many of them do so daily. This is promising news for Facebook considering the number of critics who suggest teens and Millennials are leaving Facebook in droves.
Of the platforms used by Millennials for news, those surveyed say they also get news from social media services other than Facebook, such as YouTube, Instagram and Reddit.
The fact that Millennials are going to social media to find news may not be all that surprising. Several studies over the past few years from the Pew Research Center, the American Press Institute and others have found a steady uptick in the move to social media to find news.
But is this a good move? How are members of the Millennial generation, or any generation for that matter, learning how to use social media to consume and share news?
No one really teaches social media literacy outside of a few books, online tutorials and college classes (quick plug: we now offer a social media literacy course at YSU).
Many people will tell you that they learn to use social media for news through trial and error.
Two weeks ago, my friend found a story on Facebook about Pittsburgh becoming the first “Google City.” The details looked legit. It looked like a real news story and included “facts” and quotes.
In reality, it was a satirical blog post by breakingburgh.com. These funny, often witty sites have the appearance of real, credible news, and lead many readers to think what they’re seeing is the real deal.
Thanks to sites such as snopes.com and other fact-checking services, knowledgeable Web surfers are able to determine fact from fiction. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
News is changing, and the way we read it is changing, regardless of what generation we’re in. It’s up to us to be better at finding the best, most credible news to share through our social media connections.
~ A version of this post appeared in the Sunday, March 22, 2015 issue of The Vindicator newspaper.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor of communication studies the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA where he also directs the graduate program in professional communication. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator and Tribune-Chronicle newspapers on social media and society.