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Young people are increasingly getting their news online

Nearly 50% of young people don't trust national media, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center.
Young people are increasingly getting their news online
Posted at 4:13 PM, Jan 23, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-23 17:14:46-05

Younger generations are increasingly turning online for news, including aggregators like Apple and Google News and social media.

"About 30% of Americans under the age of 30 are getting their news now from TikTok," said Margot Susca, assistant professor of journalism, accountability and democracy at American University.

Susca, author of the new book "Hedged," says social media offers something traditional news doesn't.

"An opportunity to engage," she said. "It's an opportunity to comment, it's an opportunity to share."

While the oldest Americans still tend to get their news from television networks, younger people from all parts of the political spectrum share a distrust of the media

Nearly 50% of young people say they don't trust national media, according to the Pew Research Center.

That lack of trust is a problem, according to DeMario Phipps-Smith with the News Literacy Project, a nonprofit organization that teaches about the important role trusted media outlets play in a democracy. 

"When we think about the information landscape we're in right now, how expansive it is, how almost instantaneous it is now and then when you think about the misinformation crisis, how important having good accurate credible information is to civic discourse," Phipps-Smith explained.

SEE MORE: Scripps News Special Report: The Future of TV

The popularity of video-based sites like TikTok is causing mainstream news outlets to adapt with short digestible content.

According to Pew, nearly 90% of major news sources have a presence on TikTok, up from 57% in 2021.

Experts warn that there is a risk to only getting news from one quick online video, even if the source is legitimate. 

"You're getting soundbites or you're just getting one video of one speaker — you're not really getting the full context. You're not really exposing yourself to multiple points of view, multiple perspectives, historical context," said Susca.

While Tiktok is a booming source for news among younger people, Americans agree that news on the platform is among the least trustworthy, according to a 2023 poll from YouGov.

Experts say skepticism is a good thing across all platforms, especially in the age of misinformation. Susca adds that people should ask themselves certain questions when reading a story. 

"Does it have a byline? Does it have a corrections policy? Does it give information about how it's used its sources?" Susca said.

Phipps-Smith added, "I think it behooves young people to really think about what standards are important to them, what ethics are important to them when it comes to news coverage, and then go and find sources that align with that."


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