Polling News

Where’s The News – A Generational Divide

May 11, 2023

According to Pew Research polling, news doesn’t travel the way it used to when it comes to younger voters. For television news, considered to be the most widely consumed form of news consumption, there is a 41-point disparity between those who get their news from that medium in the youngest and oldest polling demographics. 

Why It Matters: As the next generation continues to age into the electorate, their natural news consumption habits will become more important to the goal of reaching and persuading voters. In fact, the way these voters consume news likely will change the way campaigns approach earned media and content distribution in the next several years.

It should be of no great surprise that digital platforms, particularly social media, have seen a meteoric rise as vehicles for news consumption across all demographics. The Pew study shows the major gap that exists across generations in where Americans get their news, and gives some hints for what might (and possibly should) come next. 

By The Numbers:

  • Television – 85% of adults age 65+ get their news from TV, compared to 74% of those who are 50-64, 55% of those ages 30-49 and 44% of adults from 18-29.
  • Radio – 55% of adults from 50-64 consume news via radio, the highest of any demographic; the lowest is those ages 18-29 (35%), followed by those who are 65 and up (46%), and adults from 30-49 (48%).
  • Print Media – Print publications fall in a similar stepwise manner to television, with 49% of those ages 65 and up reading physical news vs. 21% of those ages 18-29. The disparity here illustrates the battle for life being fought by traditional print publications.
  • Digital Media – The reverse is true when it comes to digital media, with 91% of adults aged 18-29 receiving their news on digital platforms, along with 88% of those ages 30-49, 78% of those ages 50-64, and 67% of adults age 65 and up.

 

Where’s The News: With 91% of young adults reporting that they consume news via digital platforms, a recent Harvard Institute of Politics survey of these voters tells where their news is coming from on a regular basis. At the top of the list for digital platforms is YouTube, with 35%. Instagram clocks in at second most widely read with 29% accessing the platform for news regularly. Facebook and TikTok tie for 3rd among the digital media outlets for news consumption. 

The Bottom Line: While the political minds of yesterday discounted burgeoning social media as being unimportant to campaigning and more a vanity project than a tool, social media’s staying power is showing through, and isn’t going anywhere. The GOP and its candidates should invest in developing effective earned media dissemination and voter persuasion strategies that allow them to meet the next generation of voters where they get their news. The old media playbook has an expiration date and its coming soon.

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