Students follow news to understand the issues happening around the world, helping them engage with communities and participate in a democracy. Advances in technology offer various ways to get access to news. For example, one no longer needs to subscribe to a broadsheet. Social media pages of newspapers serve as a good source to get updates.
A recent study of Project Information Literacy, a national research institute, examined the preferences, practices and motivations of young news consumers. Researchers of this study conducted an online survey with 5,844 respondents at 11 U.S. colleges, universities and community colleges.
Thirty-seven follow-up telephone interviews and write-in responses to an open-ended question from more than 1,600 survey respondents provided qualitative data about their opinions and perspectives. The authors also did a computational analysis of Twitter data from 731 survey respondents and a larger Twitter panel of more than 135,000 college-age persons to get observational data about news sharing behaviors.
Results showed that the news diet of young news consumers is both multi-modal and multi-social. The most common way of getting news among students in a week was discussions with peers (93 percent) whether face-to-face or online via text, email, or direct messaging on social media. Many had also become aware of news stories in college classes; seven in 10 said that in the past week they had learned of news in their discussions with instructors or professors. Most of the students (89 percent) had picked up news during the last week from social media.
More than two-thirds (68 percent) said the sheer amount of news available to them was overwhelming, and half (51 percent) agreed it was difficult to identify the most important news stories on any given day.
Tension also existed between idealized views of journalism and a distrust of news. For example, a student said, “It is really hard to know what is real in today’s society; there are a lot of news sources and it is difficult to trust any of them.”
The authors also found a gulf between students’ academic and personal news-seeking habits. The majority of students relied on library databases and professors to fulfill academic assignment requirements, while for everyday needs, social media networks or relatively newer media sources, such as BuzzFeed or Politico, were more popular.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2HOcw3i
Head, A. J., Wihbey, J., Metaxas, P. T., MacMillan, M., & Cohen, D. (2018). How Students Engage with News: Five Takeaways for Educators, Journalists, and Librarians. The News Study Report. Project Information Literacy.