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The rise of the social, mobile youth: 4 early points from NYT 'News Eco-System Study'

The rise of the social, mobile youth: 4 early points from NYT 'News Eco-System Study'

Just before a networking coffee break in the Chicago Ballroom Foyer this afternoon, Brian Brett, Executive Director of Customer Research for The New York Times, will present the results of a “News Eco-System Study” to attendees of the INMA Audience Summit.

Commissioned by The New York Times, the study was an online survey conducted in the spring by the Knowledge Network, reaching over 3,000 U.S. residents aged 18 to 65 (of whom 85 percent are regular news consumers). Its purpose was to find out how people are consuming news, across platforms and between generations.

Thanks to a preview from Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman, here are four early points from the study’s findings:

1. Facebook is the dominant social network for news, especially for young people and mobile users

Fifteen percent of digital news consumers find news through social media, and Facebook is the place they are most likely to look.

The first social network to reach one billion active users, where the median age is 22, Facebook is a news source for 11 percent of Baby Boomers, 23 percent of “Gen X” (aged ~ 30-50), and 35 percent of “Millenials” (born in roughly 1982 or later), according to the survey.

People who use mobile devices to access news are also more likely than their non-mobile counterparts to access news through Facebook: 30 percent of mobile users use it for news, versus 18 percent of people who do not use mobile platforms.

To keep things in perspective, though, it is worth noting that across all of the generations, word of mouth is by far the most popular way to share news articles with others. 

2. A higher proportion of young people are now getting news on smartphones than from newspapers, and their reliance on TV and radio is dropping

Overall, the study finds that television is the leading news platform, followed by computers, radio, and then print newspapers.

Among Millenials, though, smartphones trump newspapers, with 40 percent accessing news from their mobile phones, and only 22 percent from the printed page.

In this demographic, the proportions turning to television (75 percent) and radio (47 percent) for news are still relatively high, but are on the decline. Smartphone news use, on the other hand, is on the rise.


3. ‘Established’ media organisations are lagging behind web native sources for digital news consumers in general and on computers, but are leading in mobile

Traditional news brands such as The New York Times and CNN are less popular overall among digital news consumers than web native news sources like The Huffington Post and The Drudge Report: 43 percent of digital news consumers get information from established sources, versus 53 percent from web native sources, says the study. This is also true on computers, with 54 percent using them to get news from pure players and 39 percent from traditional sources.

On mobile devices, however, the opposite is true. On Smartphones, 52 percent of news seekers look to established sources, versus 36 percent for pure players, and on tablets, 56 percent go for established media brands and 39 percent for web native sources.

4. Almost a third of mobile news consumers have upped the amount of news they consume since last year 

...This piece of good news speaks for itself.

Stay tuned for the rest of the findings, soon to be available via a social network on a mobile device near you.

SourceFor the rest of the early findings, including more visualisations and a great animation showing the times of day at which people in different age categories read the news (the Millenials, predictably, are not early birds), visit Poynter.

Photo courtesy of twicepix via Flickr Creative Commons



Emma Knight


2012-10-05 15:42

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