How the news media can reel in younger audiences

by | Dec 16, 2019 | Blog, What We're Reading

Since young people find authenticity, fairness, diversity and inclusiveness “critically important,” incorporating these values into news coverage can help draw in this demographic.


How Young People Consume News and The Implications For Mainstream Media 
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University
By Lucas Galan, Jordan Osserman, Tim Parker and Matt Taylor
Sept. 2

Many young people see news as an overwhelming chore, according to a new study from the  Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Instead of using traditional news sources, many prefer getting their news from YouTube or other social media sources.

So how can traditional forms of media reel in younger viewers? According to Reuters researchers, the media needs to change story coverage.

“Younger audiences respond to stories with a ‘point of view’ as well as human stories told from a ground up perspective. Authenticity, fairness, diversity and inclusiveness are the kind of values that resonate with under-35s,” they wrote. “At the same time, journalism in the future needs to give young people more of a stake in stories and their outcomes.”

Because young people are often put off by negative views, they want a mix of inspiring stories that show a path to positive action, researchers said. Not only that, but some participants said the news is difficult to access. Researchers explained outlets can draw in young people by making the news experience as easy and accessible as Facebook or Netflix — and make better use of such platforms.


Key Numbers

  • Instagram is the primary app found on almost all phones and took up the most daily minutes; however no news app — besides Reddit, which offers a lot of entertaining content besides news — was within the top 25 apps used by participants.
  • While participants spent about 20 minutes on apps like Instagram, Safari or Snapchat, individual news apps like Guardian, CNN and WSJ logged between 1 and 2 minutes daily.

Study Details

  • Researchers studied the smartphone behavior of 20 people across the U.K. and U.S. for two weeks.
  • The participants were between 18 and 35 years old.
  • Sixteen participants wrote digital diaries about the news they consumed over three days.