“I do lament those times in which something could become so important that we all watched,” Hall said. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t all engaged now.”
If you’re under 30, the future of news is in your hands, literally.
Three out of 4 young adults who carry cellphones use them to check the news. Most owners of tablet computers also use them to get updates; young people are the ones most likely to have tablets.
But the young think of news differently than previous generations did, said Rachel Davis Mersey, an associate professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Their broader definition includes anything happening right now, whether it’s sports or entertainment or politics.
“We don’t see young people thinking of it as a civic obligation to keep up with news,” Mersey said. “We see young people including news as part of a very complex, very diverse, very large media diet that includes a diversity of sources, a diversity of platforms and really goes 24/7.”
The Media Insight Project study found 20-somethings likelier to follow up when they hear something big is happening.
“They’re the sort of on-demand news generation,” Rosenstiel said.
Americans get that first word an assortment of ways. Traditional news operations still dominate, but word of mouth, email and text messages, Facebook and Twitter, and electronic news alerts also come into play.
Most people say they have more confidence in a story when they get it directly from a news-gathering operation. But their media habit doesn’t include paying for it — only about a fourth have paid subscriptions.
Nine out of 10 watched some type of TV news in the previous week. Newspapers, including online editions, and radio news each reached more than half the country. Online-only news sources such as Yahoo! News and Buzzfeed reached nearly half.