Digital Publishing
3 mins read

Young people understand news better, and are more willing to pay for it

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At a time when “fake news” has become so prevalent that Time had to cover its addition to the lexicon, and the British government had to ban the phrase from appearing in official papers, the youth are demonstrating unusual discernment in separating facts from opinions.

According to a new analysis from Pew Research Center, younger Americans are better than their elders at separating factual from opinion statements in the news.

Younger Americans also are more “digitally savvy” than their elders, a characteristic that is also tied to greater success at classifying news statements, the report notes.

“Beyond digital savviness, the original study found that two other factors have a strong relationship with being able to correctly classify factual and opinion statements: having higher political awareness and more trust in the information from the national news media,” said Jeffrey Gottfried and Elizabeth Grieco, researchers at the Pew Research Center.

“Despite the fact that younger adults tend to be less politically aware and trusting of the news media than their elders, they still performed better at this task.”

Not only are young people better at separating the wheat from the chaff, they are “more inclined” to pay for news than older consumers, as they are used to paying for services like Netflix and Spotify, according to a top industry analyst.

Young people are more inclined to pay for new services than old consumers.

At the Press Gazette’s Digital Journalism Summit last week, Enders Analysis chief executive Douglas McCabe shared this optimistic message as he discussed the state of the digital journalism ecosystem in 2018.

“Trust in media is rising, though I appreciate it is not exactly through the roof, and propensity to pay for journalism has grown,” he said. “Young people are more inclined to pay for new services than old consumers.”

Nic Newman, lead author of the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, also shared the latest research on how people are consuming news. Newman and McCabe presented a few slides on the state of news at the Digital Journalism Summit, held in association with News UK.

According to their findings, TV news has seen a drop in popularity among under-35s of 11% since 2013, while the number of young people mainly using online news sources including social media has also grown by 11%.

Newman said that Facebook is much less important than it was in 2016, as younger people have been attracted by newer networks such as Snapchat.

Young people are also driving up podcasting, at the expense of radio news. Newman mentioned that audio is on the rise for news, with 18% now accessing podcasts at least monthly, and 7% of people in the UK now using smart speakers, up from 2% last year.

The youth are also technology early adopters, and McCabe has a message for publishers looking to appeal to the new generation.

Publishers are under-investing in tablets,” he said. “Tablets are a very good way of browsing… and can also upsell much better than a mobile phone can.”

In a nutshell, the youth are driving up news consumption, embracing new media, understanding quality of news better, and are more willing to pay for it.

The British statesman Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.” The data seems to indicate they may very well have to take on the mantle as custodians of the future of journalism too.