October 4, 2013

Pew Research surveys of audience habits suggest perilous future for news

FT_Media_AgeNews organizations have been confronting the problem of a shrinking audience for more than a decade, but trends strongly suggest that these difficulties may only worsen over time. Today’s younger and middle-aged audience seems unlikely to ever match the avid news interest of the generations they will replace, even as they enthusiastically transition to the Internet as their principal source of news.

Pew Research longitudinal surveys find that Gen Xers (33-47 years old) and Millennials (18-31 years old), who spent less time than older people following the news at the outset of their adulthood, have so far shown little indication that that they will become heavier news consumers as they age.

Notably, a 2012 Pew Research national poll found members of the Silent generation (67-84 years old) spending 84 minutes watching, reading or listening to the news the day before the survey interview. Boomers (48-66 years old), did not lag far behind (77 minutes), but Xers and Millennials spent much less time: 66 minutes and 46 minutes, respectively.

Read the full article on the Poynter website.

See also “In Changing News Landscape, Even Television is Vulnerable: Trends in News Consumption: 1991-2012

Topics: News Media Trends, Media Economics

  1. Photo of Andrew Kohut

    is founding director of Pew Research Center.


  1. Spread the Pansy3 years ago

    The whole study would be nice (like who you asked and what demographics that aren’t there.)

    I can’t see anything here that’s of substance. A journal used it here to represent our generation and I’d want clarifications on who was asked and such in your country. Since I live in Quebec, Canada I want to see if the thing is at least representative of the US population.

    (the article is given to be used in a text which will treat about a subject we aren’t aware of atm, we have multiple other articles and need to extract info from them; we don’t have them during the writing, just a sheet with info. I need to know if I should use this.)
    Thank you and I hope you have a great day <3

  2. TribalLion4 years ago


    Mr. Pearson below gives an account on how his interest in the news grew over time. Thank you for providing your personal experience, Mr. Pearson.

    If we take a look at public opinion concerning the news according to the Pew Research polls, the drop in viewer- or readership is probably attributed to the population’s suspicions that the media is not trustworthy. In particular, news covering politics and foreign policy seems filtered and is reported either with an obvious bias or a much more subtle ideological slant (Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent. 1989). Essentially, news in these two categories is generally meant to gradually indoctrinate its audience to the preferred “telling of events.” It’s not a conspiracy or anything else of the kind, it’s just the way the media (and by extension, the public relations industry) imparts information to the unaware masses, who in turn take much of it on faith.

    Incidentally, on the one hand, political and foreign policy press these days are meant to be divisive. It keeps the political fringes at each others’ throats and solidifies a political party’s base or following. But, on the other hand, the news reports really have nothing to do with ideology or principle, but everything to do with how business gets conducted in the country and how much money can be squeezed out of the budget to pay off the wealthy, powerful, and privileged. There are news terms associated with this–it’s normally called subsidizing, contracting, tax cuts, or whatever term that allows for smooth transfer of tax revenue (funding) into the right pockets.

    Taking the previous paragraph in mind, since the news only superficially covers important topics while omitting what is important, you create a suspicious readership. The readership are often unable to put their thumb on what’s wrong, but they know something is wrong or off or that they are not being told everything or worse, they are being lied to outright. Americans have a tradition that is rooted in honesty, good work ethic, loyalty, and sincerity (to name a few). If they don’t feel like they are receiving that, they occupy their time working, raising a family, or with other distraction.

  3. Doug Pearson4 years ago

    I was born in 1934. I do spend a lot more time watching TV new than I did in my twenties; I also pay more attention to the local newspaper and, of course, I spend infinitely more time with online news, which was not available in my twenties.

    More to the point, in my twenties I was simply not interested in news of any kind–I wanted entertainment. I listened to records, watched TV shows (westerns, largely, continued from my childhood watching movies), and went to live music shows, plays and movies.

    In my thirties I got interested in hiking in the Sierra Nevada and car rallyes. (Not the exciting races-against-the-clock you see on TV, but the more mundane, but mind-bending, gimmick rallyes popular where I lived.)

    It was not until after I married (late–age 40) that I finally began to pay attention to the news. Over the many years since then my interest in news (and my partisanship) has grown.

    Is this progression of interests typical? If so, it may explain why the news is not doomed.