Social media news consumption becoming more popular with younger generations


News platforms are rapidly changing and social media is the latest platform that makes news more accessible.

BYU communications professor Quint Randle researches digital news and said this trend has both pros and cons. One benefit is that people can engage with one another and spread information very quickly.

However, Randle said people follow different news outlets depending on their opinions and what views they trust and that people are more likely to trust the news that they choose to consume, or in this case, follow on social media.

He added that people may be more skeptical of the news because now consumers have the ability to create and curate news.

“(News) used to be high entry, now anybody can create news,” he said, adding that it can be helpful when people take news and make it simple for others to understand.

According to Randle, students are less informed with the news, so it has become less of a conversational topic. He said that, in general, there are downfalls to not consuming news.

“I don’t think you can make correct decisions in a democracy or informed decisions about a lot of things if you don’t have information,” Randle said.

A 2018 Pew Research study found that more Americans are getting their news on social media rather than print newspapers.

A 2018 survey by Pew Research Center shows the younger generation starting to consume more news on social media. The statistics show that TV and radio news are still popular with older generations. (Camilla Brinton)

In the past, news media was mostly on television and in print newspapers, but since the internet started, digital and social media are the trend. Television and print still remain a popular news source for older Americans, according to Pew Research. Adults ages 18-29 are consuming more news due to the rise in popularity of social media platforms.

“Younger Americans are also unique in that they don’t rely on one platform in the way that the majority of their elders rely on TV,” the study stated.

BYU news media alumna Madison Heaps has recognized the rapid change of news going to social media.

In the summer of 2017, Heaps wanted to get experience for her major but needed somewhere to start before landing an internship. She created Minute with Mads, a news Instagram account that helps people stay informed and better understand the news in a more accessible way.

She initially thought the account would be a summer resume-builder experience, but two years later, she continues to run Minute with Mads.

Heaps said she has to be personable on social media, even if it is a news account. For example, she shares behind-the-scenes posts about her life and how she manages the account. On occasion, she posts pictures of her and her husband, such as when she posted about her pregnancy.

She is grateful that this account is a resource for people if they have questions about the news.

“I get DMs all the time from people saying ‘I have better conversations with my husband, I have better conversations with my kids because I understand the news better,’” Heaps said.

A screenshot of Madison Heaps’ news account. Minute with Mads on Instagram aims to help people understand the news. (Minute with Mads)

Not only does Heaps get to use her news reporting skills, but she also loves how running the account allows her to have a creative outlet and connect with people.

“I try to keep it pretty well-rounded just to give everybody a taste of what is happening in every category or industry,” Heaps said.

She said if people hate the news, then they’re doing it wrong. What she knows now that she wishes she knew sooner is that there is not a “right way” to consume news, but that the right way is for each individual to find a way they like to access it.

“The news can be terrifying and overwhelming,” Heaps said, “but the news can help you feel so connected to the world in a way that nothing else can.”

She suggests watching TV, subscribing to a paper or magazine or following a few different news pages on Instagram or Twitter.

Heaps has learned a lot from running her news account and said TV and print news will not die but that social media will just become another platform for news.

Screenshot of a Minute with Mads Instagram post. Heaps sometimes post video recaps of news stories. (Minute with Mads)

The news world on social media is growing. Heaps thinks that although social media news is becoming more popular, breaking news will always be on TV and investigative journalism from outlets like The New York Times will keep print alive.

Just like Heaps uses the news as a way to connect with people, she thinks that people should be informed so they can be more connected.

“Staying informed that way will help you feel better connected to the world you’re living in and the people around you,” she said.

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