According to interviews and surveys, not only are young viewers turning to sources such as YouTube, Facebook, and late-night comedy shows like "The Daily Show" for their news instead of from traditional media, they also rely on their friends and social networks to receive their news. Essentially, a social filter is replacing the professional filter, such as reading a paper or surfing through news sites.
"There are lots of times where I'll read an interesting story online and send the U.R.L. to 10 friends. I'd rather read an e-mail from a friend with an attached story than search through a newspaper to find the story," said Lauren Wolfe, President of College Democrats of America.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 4 out of 10 young people have watched candidate speeches, interviews, commercials, and debates online, which is more than people who are 30 and older.
An example of this technological "word of mouth" is Barack Obama's YouTube response to President Bush's final State of the Union address. Though the newspaper and television reporters paid little attention to this in January, the video received over 1.3 million views on YouTube and has been linked by more than 500 blogs.
Media companies such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC are gaining more viewers in the 18-34 age range, though most college students are more likely to find their news on YouTube. This way, they can bypass "the context and analysis that seasoned journalists provide" and "act as editors themselves," according to NY Times journalist Brian Stelter.
"We're talking about a generation that doesn't just like seeing the video in addition to the story -- they expect it," said Danny Shea, Associate Media Editor for The Huffington Post. "And they'll find it elsewhere if you don't give it to them, and then that's the link that's going to be passed around over e-mail and instant message."
A college student from a focus group conducted by Jane Buckingham, founder of the Intelligence Group, said, "If the news is that important, it will find me."
Source: New York Times through Poynter Romenesko