The Youth Lab

Consumed by the news: Youth & news consumption in 2018

When everyone with a mobile is a potential source of news, and every ‘official’ news-site operates on a 24hour basis it can feel overwhelming. Being able to cut through the noise can be difficult when everyone is screaming for your attention. In response to this, young people are becoming more proactive in the ways they consume media.


Just 5% of young people source their news from print newspapers. And now, a recent annual survey has revealed that while Facebook remains an important news source for many, its popularity has declined – being replaced by other social platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and personal messaging apps like Whatsapp.

News in the Trump era has made young people skeptical of mainstream news institutions, recognising that every news house has an editorial bias. As a result, young people are increasingly following individual journalists, and politicians, drawing their news direct from the source.

The appeal of personal messaging apps and following individual journalists as news sources lies in the closeness of the viewer and the reporter. Their relationship allows the viewer to judge how trustworthy the news they’re reporting is.

Young people are building a varied news ecosystem for themselves, drawing information about the world around them from a broad spectrum of sources and mediums. But they’re also being careful about how they consume news.

“It makes me feel bad watching news or reading all these stories - I do think it's important to be aware of everything and do what you can to help but I don't think tuning in all the time is the way to do that.” - Ayesha, 18, The Love Network

With such a broad selection of sources, young people are curating a newsfeed that will keep them informed without overwhelming them.


Increasingly, young people are also recognising the dangers of the echo-chamber and are actively looking to break out of it. Some are installing the chrome extension ‘Escape Your Bubble’, which inserts articles into your newsfeed designed to challenge your views. Others consult the subreddit ‘Change My View’, where they can post a question or idea and welcome other Redditors to challenge it, and ultimately try to change their view. Some are going it alone and are consciously making an effort to broaden their media consumption.

“My go-to are the Guardian, Jacobin, The New Yorker and the London Review of Books. I also listen to a lot of LSE (London School of Economics) Podcasts – so I could be described as a die-cast Lefty. I don’t need any help regarding how I feel about work and social issues. But I find it helps to round out my thinking by reading more conservative titles – provided they’re well-written and based in fact – so I read The Economist, the Times, and, at a push, The Telegraph.” - James, 27, The Love Network

Young people not only don’t mind having their views challenged, they’re actively seeking it, in order to make sure their news sources are robust and providing them with a broad range of information. Equally they’re challenging news sources who spread 'fake news’ or news based on shaky facts.


Young people are also increasingly turning to late night comedy shows to source their information about the world. As the world’s news becomes even more absurd, surreal and convoluted late-night hosts have taken up the role of unravelling and explaining exactly what’s going on to a growing number of people. Comedians such as Trevor Noah, Seth Myers, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, and Stephen Colbert are bizarrely becoming the voice of reason on television, and a secure source of news for young people.

Reporting the news through a comedic lens also gives free reign to the hosts to critique and tackle the outrageous behaviour of public figures and politicians. The late-night hosts often feel like media’s resistance against the likes of Trump and Weinstein. Clips from the shows are more likely to go viral than traditional media reports, meaning more and more young people are able to engage with the news and world events across multiple platforms.

Equally young people are consuming news mindfully, careful not to overwhelm themselves, or exacerbate a feeling of helplessness. Young people want to stay informed about their world, but they also need to look after their emotional and mental hygiene.

See also

Breaking Up With The Smartphone
Breaking Up With The Smartphone

"Honestly, my phone is the center of everything I do. I lost my phone and I couldn't function for 10 days" – Vanisha, 22, The Love Network