Young Adults Using Traditional Media Feel Most Informed

Published: February 25th, 2015

Category: College News, Research News, The Agency

Digital sites continue to be the primary source of news for young adults, but users of online-only news sites don’t feel as informed as those using sites affiliated with traditional media.

More than half of young adults who prefer traditional news sites said they were “very informed,” a rating chosen by only four out of every 10 who prefer online-only news sites. Yet online-only news is the primary source of news for nearly 35 percent, compared to 22 percent for traditional news sites.

These results come from an online survey conducted among readers and followers of Elite Daily, a major destination site for Millennials, and analyzed by the Millennial Research Core (MRC), the research arm of The Agency (a unit of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications), in partnership with Elite Daily. The results are not generalizable to all young adults, but do provide insights on news preferences of a segment of that generation. The analysis here focuses on 18 to 24 year olds.

Primary News sourcePercent
Online-only news sites34.5
Web site of traditional news media21.8
Facebook links14.0
Twitter links9.9
Broadcast TV4.5
Print newspaper3.1
Other Social3.1
Cable all-news2.3
Search1.0
Other5.7

Overall, 38 percent of respondents felt very informed vs. 59 percent who said they were somewhat informed. A small percent responded that they were not interested in current events or civic issues.

The small group that cited print newspapers as their primary news source felt most informed (67 percent). About 56 percent of those whose primary news sources are traditional media Web sites felt very informed followed by online-only (40 percent), search (33 percent), links from Twitter (32.5 percent), broadcast TV (32 percent), all-news cable channels (29 percent), links from Facebook (24 percent) and other social networks (15 percent). About 35 percent of those who cited “other” sources felt very informed.

Primary News sourcePercent Informed
VerySomewhat
Print newspaper66.733.3
Web site of traditional news media56.243.8
Online-only news sites39.960.1
Search33.366.7
Twitter links32.567.5
Broadcast TV31.668.4
Cable all-news28.671.4
Facebook links23.776.3
Other social15.484.6
Other35.764.3

“Even though the overwhelming majority of young adults are turning to digital sources for news, there is still a perception by some that they are better informed through traditional media,” said Diane McFarlin, dean of the UF College of Journalism and Communications. “Still, legacy media – including newspapers, broadcast TV and cable news – face significant challenges in attracting this demographic. We will continue to explore the ‘why’ behind these and other findings as part of the Millennial Research Core’s focus on this audience segment.”

The survey also asked which social issue is most important. For 18 to 24-year-old men, protection of the environment was most important and for women, by far, equal rights/equal pay was the most important issue.

Important IssuesPercent
MenWomen
Protection of Environment24.813.6
Equal Rights/Equal Pay13.631.1
Poverty12.812.3
Access to Healthcare10.413.6
Marijuana Legalization7.24.6
Immigration6.41.7
World Hunger2.411.9
Other22.411.3

Overall, 70 percent of survey respondents were female. Still, on equal rights, of those who thought that was the most important issue, nearly 85 percent were women. For world hunger, 92 percent were women. Men felt more strongly than women about only one issue: immigration. For those who thought immigration was the most important, 62 percent were men.

The survey was conducted between October 14 -19, 2014 among a random sample of subscribers to Elite Daily newsletters and five Facebook groups who were identified as Elite Daily readers through Facebook polls. About 1,300 young adults aged 16 and over responded. The survey also included questions about finances, brand affiliation, media impact on purchase decisions, shopping behavior and more.  A summary of the full study is available here.

The analysis was conducted by College of Journalism and Communications doctoral student Krystin Anderson. For more information, contact Randy Bennett.

About the Millennial Research Core

The Millennial Research Core is the research arm of The Agency, an integrated, strategic communications firm at The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications — led by professionals, staffed by students and inspired by faculty.   The Agency is a nationally competitive firm focused on marketing to millennials. A key offering of the MRC is a Millennial Community which will be populated by demographically and geographically representative group of approximately 1,000 millennials. For more information on The Agency, contact Andy Hopson, executive director.

About the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications is driving innovation and engagement across the disciplines of advertising, journalism, public relations and telecommunication. The strength of its programs, faculty, students and alumni — in research and in practice — has earned the college ongoing recognition as one of the best in the nation among its peers. The college includes seven broadcast and digital media properties and the nation’s only program in public interest communications. For more information, contact Quenta Vettel.

About Elite Daily

Elite Daily’s founding team grew tired of traditional media publications mandating that news coverage be presented in a dull, one-dimensional manner and set out to create a highly engaging, socially driven content platform that would radically change and redefine the meaning of a media publication. With an audience of over 74 million monthly readers, Elite Daily has established the largest, fastest growing community of millennial voices on the web. For more information, contact Luis Navia.

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