Carrier pigeons were the first messengers that completely changed the way news was delivered. That was back in the mid 1800s. Now, news organizations don’t need to rely on birds to get the word out.
Within the past few years particularly, innovations in the news industry have rapidly changed the way the younger generation consumes news. They get it faster, they get more of it and they see it in ways never imagined just 15 or 20 years ago.
The invention of the smartphone has likely accelerated news consumption more than anything. Now, anyone with this device can research the news from virtually any place with a signal, but it’s not so much about surfing the Web.
Millennials subscribe to services that put the news right into their hands without even having to search. According to the American Press Institute, some 40 percent of millennials pay for at least one news-specific app, service or digital subscription.
More than that, there is a flood of free services with instant alerts. Everything from campus services at a college to city fire and police departments to news organizations can send messages that immediately pop onto a smartphone screen. Think of the last time you heard about a local disaster or potentially dangerous event. Did you hear it on the 6 o’clock news, or did it appear as an app or email alert?
More than that, there is a flood of free services with instant alerts. Everything from campus services at a college to city fire and police departments to news organizations can send messages that immediately pop onto a smartphone screen. Think of the last time you heard about a local disaster or potentially dangerous event. Did you hear it on the evening news, or did it appear as an app or email alert?
Of course, you can’t talk about the millennial generation without mentioning social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks have created a unique environment for news consumption. Twitter users can follow celebrity icons, news outlets, bloggers and more to receive the latest gossip or breaking reports. Other times, finding the next hot media issue could be as easy as scrolling through Facebook.
In fact, social media has created an odd trend where news readers don’t have to seek information themselves. Now, they can just scroll into it by accident. According to the API, that’s the way the majority of millennials find their news now. Some 39 percent of millennials say they actively search for news, while another 60 percent say they run into news content coincidentally while scanning Facebook or similar sites.
Online link aggregators
Millennials don’t necessarily have to go to one news organization in particular. The New York Times, CNN, the Boston Globe, BBC, small local station reports, industry blogs and the like can be linked to via an online community.
In this way, millennials can find the content they find most important across websites faster or even post content they believe will attract the greatest following themselves. Now, some of these communities number in the millions, with high amounts of web traffic on a consistent basis.
For example, Reddit — a massive link aggregator site and self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet” — collected 731 million unique visitors and 56 billion page views in 2013, according to the site’s official blog.
Reddit may be the most popular link aggregator out there, but there are several other sites that accomplish the same service and have en massed huge followings, including Digg, Mashable, Vice and more. It’s not so much about reading the “paper” any more. It’s about piecing together hundreds — if not thousands — of other papers from across the world together to create the most entertaining and important material.
Satirical news organizations
For better or worse, many TV news organizations have fallen into a trend of reporting events that collect the highest viewership. In some circumstances, this means following a missing plane for weeks at a time or covering celebrity gossip for the sake of ratings, which affects credibility.
By incorporating satire into a report, comedic news sources can use humor to drive viewership. After all, satirical news figures don’t have the same credibility concerns to begin with. It may not sound like a popular movement, but satire news has made a big splash among millennials.
A Rasmussen poll in 2009 showed that almost one-third of Americans under 40 years of age saw “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” as taking the place of more conventional news sources. Three years later, a Pew Research Center study showed that millennials both watched satirical news more often and trust the sources more than other cable networks, according to the Huffington Post.
Does that spell disaster for creating a generation of well-informed citizens? Another Pew Research Center poll said no. According to another study, regular “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” viewers showed the highest knowledge in news topics on average.
Making it themselves
Perhaps the most distinctive way millennials consume news is by contributing to it themselves, and that doesn’t mean becoming the next big story. Millennials can become writers on popular blog networks, comment on news items via link aggregator sites or social media, or even record events themselves using a mobile device.
Any generation has access to these same tools, but millennials may be the most likely to capitalize on them, as Nielsen reported that 85 percent of Generation Y currently owns a
smartphone. Imagine it like this: Like word of mouth, millennials are sharing news topics with an audience of potentially millions every day through social media commenting, sharing, blogging or even creating YouTube videos that record events or share a point of view.
This generation isn’t just taking in the news of the day. They create it, too.