Who is The Modern News Consumer?

This piece is produced by CNN Newsource as part of our ongoing conversations on news industry developments and opportunities with our partners in local news. 

In 2015, millennials surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in the United States. The impact of this development will reach every corner of American society. Local news producers will need to rethink every phase of their operations to succeed with this vital demographic.

That’s because millennials—those born between 1982 and 2000, now aged 18-34—have different media consumption habits from any generation before them. They consume a wider range of media, on more devices, more frequently throughout the day than their older counterparts. How they interact with and share the news they consume is also very different from the boomer-dominated audience that many local news organizations are used to.

The growing influence of millennials shows up in news consumption data. Almost twice as many millennials consume news online as do on TV—the exact opposite as the news market as a whole. Two-thirds of American adults now get news on a mobile phone or computer screen, with a majority of those preferring the mobile option. Among millennials, this figure jumps to 70 percent.

With millennials set to dominate the demographics even more with each passing year, learning how to attract and retain a millennial audience will only become more important in the future.

Local news producers might wonder whether millennials are news consumers in the first place. With an entire world of digital entertainment at their fingertips, will they choose to consume news?

CNN’s experience as the leading news brand among millennials suggests they will—if news producers create and distribute their content in the right way. Blake Sabatinelli, general manager of millennial-focused news network Newsy, puts it this way in CNN’s recent study on the modern news consumer:

“This is the most educated, informed generation that’s ever lived. To think that young people have no interest in quality news is the stupidest thing I hear on a daily basis.”

Creating news that appeals to millennials while still retaining broad appeal is no easy task for local news producers. In the next post of this series, we take an in-depth look at the millennial media diet and attitude to news. In the meantime, CNN’s POV, “Capturing the Modern News Consumer,” offers insight that local news producers can start using today to attract and retain a bigger audience.


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