How Do We Get Our Political News?

A new Pew study reveals generational differences in where Americans get their news.

Stephen Henderson talks with Jesse Holcomb, a Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center, about a new Pew study that looks at where millennials, gen. Xers, and baby boomers get their news.

Some of the major points from their conversation are:

  • Inverse news sources.  Holcomb says that baby boomers and millennials get their news from inverse sources.  Most millennials get their news from Facebook, while baby boomers are more likely to favor more traditional media sources such as local television or radio.  Generation Xers’ news habits are in-between boomers and millennials.
  • Social Media. The study reveals that the most common news source among millennials is Facebook, while boomers get most of their news from local TV. Holcomb says that this is not only because more millennials use social media, but also because their Facebook feeds contain more political content.
  • Self-selecting content.  Holcomb believes that one of the interesting aspects of social media is that people are able to individualize what content and news they view.  He says Pew has found that millennials are more likely to be exposed to views that differ from their own than boomers are.
  • Do we trust the news?  Holcomb says that the researchers expected to find that millennials are more distrustful of the news, but they found that millennials and boomers are equally critical of news sources.  They found that millennials trust 4/10 news sources, and distrust 2/10. 
  • Supplemental sources.  Holcomb says that many new types of media are supplemental sources.  While Facebook is the most common news source for millennials, he says that most common sources and main sources are different.  He says they have found that 21% of millennials say CNN is their main news source.   He thinks some new types of media, such as smartphones and podcasts, help people save time and diversify the content they engage with.  

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation.