An interesting study by Newsworks, the marketing body for national newspapers, shows the small differences – and big similarities – in the reading habits of younger and older people.
I’m not surprised by the results of the survey but it’s always nice to have one’s hunches confirmed!
Along the way, you’ll have to put up with some off-putting, but necessary, jargon (newsbrands) and some unnecessary gobbledegook like “exhibit their news habits”. But please plough on because it’s worth it.
The study, Generation News*, looked at how people aged 18-34, the millennials, consume news as distinct from people aged 50-65, the boomers.
It found that the millennials access newsbrands continually throughout the day. Despite facing a far more cluttered news landscape than previous generations did at their age, young people still form strong newsbrand habits,
Some 74% of millennials turn to newsbrands to get a balanced point of view and 78% agree that their newsbrand introduces them to stories they wouldn’t otherwise read.
Millennials are more likely than boomers to exhibit their news habits (sorry!) on digital devices – allowing them to regularly snack on news – and they have developed different routes of accessing newsbrands.
For example, 73% of millennials agree they visit a newsbrand website to get more information when they see an interesting story on social media.
More than 1m boomers read a digital newsbrand daily and enjoy the speed and ease with which they can access news, while also indulging in newspapers. Unlike their children, boomers’ newsbrand habits are more centred on specific times of day.
And here’s a fact national newspaper staff journalists will surely greet. For both generations, the saturation of news in a multi-platform world has strengthened the role of newsbrands as providers of “ real” and “professional” journalism.
Similarly, there is a cross-generational appreciation that newsbrands provide a sense of satisfaction and “a lens on the world” by telling people what they need to know.
The research identified five news habits, which transcend both millennials and boomers:
Fix: access news constantly, prompted by a general need and state of distraction.
Track: access news regularly throughout the day to keep up to date with breaking stories.
Fill: access news to pass the time when moving from one place to another.
Indulge: make time to enjoy the news as a break from everything else in the day.
Invest: read the news regularly to get an in-depth perspective on stories.
While the habits are universal, millennials are more likely to adopt the fix and fill habits while boomers have more time to adopt the indulge habit and – to a degree – track and invest.
Denise Turner, Newsworks’ insight director, said of the research: “We live in a world saturated with news, with a multitude of sources available to us, so we wanted to understand how that is affecting newsbrand habits across the generations.
“This research shows that our multi-platform news landscape has created more routes into newsbrands, with new habits being formed. Newsbrands continue to provide a trusted lens on the world.”
Bas Verplanken, professor of social psychology at Bath university, who worked on the research study, said it shows that “newsbrands remain as addictive across generations as they have ever been, with young people relying on them as much as their parents do for a balanced and informed view.”
He also noted the fact that millennials find it useful to access newsbrands numerous times a day is “testament to how well newsbrands have adapted to a connected age.”
*The research, using a series of innovative methodologies, was conducted in partnership with Bath university’s Bas Verplanken and with the Flamingo and Tapestry research companies in June 2015. More details on Newsworks website.
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