The next generation of news consumers relies on social media, TV, Web for information

Knight Foundation
The Knight Foundation’s latest survey of high schoolers found that 92% of students say it’s important to stay informed about the news (the same percentage says it’s important to vote). The research shows a shift in how teens get their news. In a typical day, they report doing the following to get news:

  • Watch TV for news 1-3+ times: 77%
  • Read an article online 1-3+ times: 54%
  • Watch video news online 1-3+ times: 48%
  • Read an article in print 1-3+ times: 42%

Their choices do not consistently align with the sources they say are the most truthful providers of news and information. They are least likely to read newspapers for news, but find them the most truthful source:

  • 88% say newspapers are very or somewhat truthful.
  • 78% say television is very or somewhat truthful.
  • 58% say websites are very or somewhat truthful.
  • 34% say social networks are very or somewhat truthful.

Despite their distrust of its accuracy, the research shows an explosion in use of social media for news and information. When asked, how often do you get news and information from a list of sources, 56 percent of teens said social networks were a daily source of news and information for them:

Frequency of use
for news & information
Social networks Internet Mobile
Daily 56% 33% 31%
Several times a week 20% 32% 19%
About once a week 7% 18% 11%
Less than once a week 6% 12% 13%
Never 10% 6% 27%

In 2007, only 8 percent of teens got news and information from a mobile device and 67 percent had never used a cell phone for news.

The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between use of social media and support for the First Amendment. The results were encouraging:

There is a clear, positive relationship between social media use and appreciation of the First Amendment. Fully 91 percent of students who use social networking daily to get news and information agree that “people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions.” But only 77 percent of those who never use social networks to get news agree that unpopular opinions should be allowed.

The survey was conducted between April and June of this year, with 12,090 students and 900 teachers from 34 public and private schools participating.

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