The combination of technology and social media has led to a drastic change in news consumption in Canada and around the world. It’s no great surprise that news is migrating to online and mobile sources versus the traditional print vehicles. But there’s a wider demographic shift at play as well.

 

According to Business Insider, millennials spent far less time consuming news than older adults, and the time they do spend is concentrated on digital sources. The age group 21-37 consumes only about 30% of the amount of news compared with adults aged 38 and over, a Nielsen study of U.S. consumers revealed.


While adults aged 38+ average 54 minutes a day watching news on television, millennials register just 12 minutes a day. And digital news reaches 88% of millennials while national TV news reaches 61% of them, compared to a digital news reach of 80% and a TV news reach of 90% for older adults.


“There’s no question that the millennial generation is more comfortable with digital news than older consumers,” says Nick Gamache, an Ottawa-based communications professional. “But I think the mainstream media are still searching for ways to make online news profitable, an immense challenge that has turned out to be more difficult than anyone expected.”

 

Paywalls have been successful for some mainstream news outlets, most notably the New York Times. But, outside of public news channels such as the CBC and NPR, the preferred model is still advertising-driven, and as yet, the money’s not there compared to the halcyon days when print journalism was king.

 

On the social media side, Facebook is far and away the most-used website for news, with 43% of U.S. adults saying they consume news on the popular channel, according to a Pew survey. Twenty-one percent of Americans get their news on YouTube, and 12% on Twitter.

 

Fake news on social media remains a concern, but the convenience appears to outweigh the risks. Two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults say they get news on social media, but a surprising 57% of those consumers expect that news to be inaccurate, the Pew survey found. Despite the popularity of social media, inaccurate, or fake, news remains the top concern for consumers.

 

On top of changes related to technology and the rise of social media, the role of the journalist has also changed in the 21st century. Jessica Thom of the University of Western Ontario has noted severely declining levels of public trust in journalists, in a paper titled Believing the News: Exploring How Young Canadians Make Decisions About Their News Consumption.

 

The changing economic environment of the newsroom has led to downsizing in many mainstream news organizations and led to professional journalists taking on more varied jobs and/or precarious jobs in order to make ends meet, Thom wrote.

 

Nick Gamache expects further change in news media as the industry seeks new and profitable business models.

 

“There are a lot of talented journalists out there, and there are more ways to tell stories than ever before with podcasts, digital videos, and others,” Gamache adds. “But finding ways to make journalism sustainable has been a challenge. The industry has been going through a lot of changes and I doubt things are done changing.”

Published by Gaura