Tech Insight : Where Do People Get Their News From?

With young people now unlikely to read newspapers or watch the TV news, and following the latest Ofcom report, we look at which channels people get their news from.

Decline of Printed Newspapers 

Newspaper readership has been declining for many years but the drop in readership during the pandemic years has been much more pronounced, e.g. 35 percent of the population (mostly over 55s) reading printed newspapers, dropping to 24 percent, a fall of almost a third by 2022. It also looks unlikely that online versions of the newspapers are picking up the slack since their readership dropped from 20 percent to 19 percent over the same period.


In the U.S. for example, a Pew Research Center survey (2020) found that 86 percent of adults get news from a smartphone, computer, or tablet “often” or “sometimes,” and 68 percent get news from tv at least sometimes, and 40 percent do so often.

In the UK, a YouGov poll shows that 50 to 64-year-olds mostly rely upon the national tv news (64 percent), news websites (45 percent), and radio, with only a small proportion (18 percent) choosing social media as their source.

For 25 to 49-year-olds, although 46 percent of them look at news websites and 34 percent look at the national TV news, the number of those getting their news from social media is much higher at 31 percent.

For adults generally, tv news is their most trusted source but, as revealed by the Ofcom study, social media is their least trusted.

Teens Get Most Of Their News From Social Media – TikTok And Instagram, Yet They Don’t Trust It 

The Ofcom survey shows that teens (12 to 15-year olds) get their news from social media rather than traditional news channels. The number of teenagers using the BBC one and two tv channels, for example, has fallen by nearly half from 45 percent five years ago, to 24 percent now.

Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are now the most popular news sources among this young age group, for the first time ever. Instagram is the most popular news source among young people, and is now used as the main news source by 29 percent of teens, with TikTok and YouTube close behind on 28 percent.

Although young people get most of their news from social media and are likely to be influenced to an extent by the opinions of social media influencers (who may also get their news from social media!) this doesn’t mean that they can’t analyse how accurate some stories may be. For example, only half of YouTube and Twitter users think that these social media channels provide trustworthy news stories and fewer than a third of teenagers (30 percent) say that they trust TikTok’s news content.

Families Too 

However, the biggest source of news for teens (65 percent) is their families. This means that although teens favour social media for news, they may actually be getting their news second-hand from their parents, whose sources are less likely to be social media, and more likely to be online news sites of more traditional media like TV news.

Looking at it from the opposite direction, more traditional news channels now get some of their stories from social media such as TikTok or YouTube.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

For businesses hoping to influence and reach teens and young people, a good social media strategy appears to be essential. For traditional newspapers, the environment appears to be getting much tougher not just in terms of maintaining circulation figures, but also in trying to hold onto share with their online versions, while desperately hanging onto their advertising revenue as the news market evolves. On-demand tv and online alternatives have also made things tougher for tv news. We now live in a world where those born between 2005-2010 haven’t known a world without social media, so it’s not surprising that so many young people turn to social media for news. This, however, has also meant that social media platforms have needed to invest more in tackling fake news and its spread, with some opting for their own fact-checked and curated news. There’s also the situation where social media news feeds into traditional news channels as stories are created and broken first via these fast and direct routes. It looks, however, as though those growing up with social media trust it more naturally and value the way that it democratises opinion and can be easily accessed on the go. Social media platforms, therefore, appear to be trusted news sources to many more people going forward, while traditional news sources are having to try and change and evolve to reach audiences.

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