Report: Millennials aren't big on paying for news

American Press Institute

The latest report on consumption patterns of millennials finds news is often "not especially relevant" to them and isn't really something they want to pay for.

The new study is from the Media Insight Project, which is a joint effort between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute. They break the nationwide survey of adults ages 18 to 34 into four groups and claim each offers a different challenge for news organizations. They are:

The Unattached: They're young members of the group who mostly get news "by just bumping into it. "They tend not to have started families or started careers and their "online lives are spent largely keeping up with their social circles, schooling, or first-time job hunts." Oh, and "less than 1 in 3 personally pay for a digital or print news subscription."

The Explorers: These are younger, too (18-24), but seek out news. "They are motivated by their belief in the social and civic benefits of following news, and they use the internet and social media to both gather information and connect with others. "

The Distracted: These are older millennials, age 25-34, who have started families, are middle class and also mostly bump into news and "tend not to use news or information for civic or social purposes."

The Activists: This group is on the older side, around 25 to 34, and tends to seek out news. These millennials have established families and career and a majority "personally pay for a digital or print news subscription, and they are likely to follow current events and report using the news for civic reasons."

The report goes into far greater detail on each group and comes up with this general conclusion:

"Understanding these distinct segments within the millennial generation should offer some clarity and opportunity for publishers seeking to reach these audiences. "

One obvious drift of the research "is that the youngest millennials, those we call Unattached and those we call Explorers, are hardly newsless. Their habits are still forming. And how publishers try to reach them should vary. A key challenge for reaching the Unattached, for instance, is to find a way to make the accidental or random encounter happen again, and to find ways to attract the unintended visitor through Facebook to explore what other content is available."

Conversely, want to reach those "Explorers?" Well, your challenge involves "attracting them with specific areas of interest and news that they want to talk about and share with friends. The social dynamic of news is more important to this group than any other."

Of the four groups, the Activists (25-34), who are highly engaged, are not surprisingly inclined to engage with news regularly. "This is particularly true for local publishers, as Activists stand out in part by their connection to and use of local news. "

But this group also represents just 23 percent of all millennials. "To reach the other three-quarters, those in publishing may have to think differently. "

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    James Warren

    New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune.


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