The Youth Lab


Global news consumption peaked during the early days of COVID-19 as we sought to inform ourselves of the pandemic. Now with the release of the latest Reuters Digital News report (based on an online survey of approximately 94,000 adults across 46 markets) our love affair with news appears to have waned. News avoidance is real, our trust in news is declining, and our news sources continue to change with the end result that less people have the full information on what’s going on in society, reducing context for decision making and potentially impacting citizenship. This week, 52INSIGHTS shares our take on the Reuters report, exploring young people’s attitudes and behaviours towards news and its impacts.


Currently in Europe, 46% of adults claim to be extremely or very interested in news. But well over a third of adults actively seek to avoid news ‘often or sometimes’ - 36% across Europe, 41% in the UK , 38% in the US and 34% in Ireland. Why so high? One explainer is the prevalence of bad news. News avoidance is explained in greater detail when it comes to topics that people are looking to avoid... In Ireland, for example, younger audiences (18-24 year olds) are more likely to avoid news about war and health in comparison to older audiences. The volume of bad news has never been so high so we’re finding ways to manage it better - and edit out the depressing stuff!

“This year I decided to stop engaging with the news altogether. It’s not good for me. I’m much happier.” Male, 32, Brighton via The Love Network

On top of this there’s news overload. News generation was historically in the hands of the few shared via a few key media channels (public broadcasters and private news channels sharing news over TV , Radio and Newspaper), now everyone’s a news broadcaster, revealing more bad news stories. Young people’s awareness of their mental health has also never been so high, so deliberately avoiding the news is increasingly seen as a positive act of self-care. The impact of course is that while editing out the depressing stuff might help personal mental health, editing out the important stuff can distort our world views in ways that don’t positively benefit society.


Internationally, our concern about what is real and fake when it comes to news has increased year on year. Fifty percent in Europe share concern this year vs 48% in 2022 - with this figure rising to 64% in the US, 64% in Ireland and 69% in the UK.Two big trends underpin these concerns - AI and social media news consumption.

AI presents entirely new possibilities and risks for the future of news, particularly around trust. When Buzzfeed CEO Joanah Peretti discussed the closure of Buzzfeed News, he expressed his belief that “generative AI will begin to replace the majority of static content” and that “audiences will begin to expect all content to be personalized, interactive, dynamic and embedded intelligence”. The risk of this is the ‘filtered bubble effect’ whereby users of social media platforms are repeatedly shown the same type of news (directed to them by the algorithm based on past behaviour) meaning they are more likely to miss out important other news and are presenting a limited perspective. There’s also the bigger threat of AI flooding the news ecosystem with deceptive or low-quality information, likely to increase people’s avoidance of news meaning the important and trustworthy news that can serve to shape young people’s outlooks and citizenship in general is again jeopardised.


With the shift toward more multimedia-led news consumption, across many Western countries social media and online are the biggest sources of news - 52% for Ireland, 47% for the UK, 49% in Europe and 58% for the US. For 18-24 year olds in the UK 41% say social media is their main source of news, up from 18% in 2015 (43% across markets). This spans TikTok, You Tube, Twitter, Snapchat and Whatsapp, with young men particularly turning to YouTube. Up five percentage points from last 2022, TikTok is the fastest growing social network in the report, used by 20% of 18-24 year olds for news. This means the ‘news’ a lot of young people are consuming isn’t just journalists reporting on events, but celebs and influencers sharing their views on news, or what they find interesting. This ‘creator economy’ is having a resurgence - Goldman Sachs Research expects the 50 million global creators to grow at a 10-20% compound annual growth rate during the next five years.

There’s a PLANET nuance when it comes to news platforms too - while environmental topics are a source of news avoidance for 21% of Irish people (compared to 41% who avoid news about the war in Ukraine), there is significant attention paid to climate and environmental topics on social media: 38% say they pay attention to these topics on Instagram, 34% on Twitter, and 21% on TikTok (Digital News Report Ireland 2023). Different channels lean into different types of news formats. For both TikTok and Instagram it’s ‘fun’ news first, where YouTube leads with sports news and Twitter = politics.


“Our research finds that deep dive podcasts, inspired by The Daily from the New York Times, along with extended chat shows, such as The Joe Rogan Experience, are the most widely consumed across markets.” Reuters Digital News Report

From voice notes to podcasts, young people are obsessed with audio. For youth, there is a growing appetite to consume news by ‘listening to news’ versus reading news - globally, 17% of under 35s claim to prefer to listen to news (than read or watch news).

“Some people in The Love Network are now saying that podcasts are their go-to source for news and media consumption, ahead of Instagram and TV. Podcasts have the power to entertain and inform, connect you with communities and enhance your day to day. They let young people elongate cultural moments that they want to linger in. HBO’s Succession podcast let people indulge in their favourite show all over again as every episode was dissected and discussed, with behind the scenes intel and interviews. Catch Up with Louise McSharry and The Group Chat offer a curated update on news and culture - something more compelling and colourful than traditional news bulletin - brought to fans by correspondents that they like and trust.” - Donna Parsons, Director, PRA, THINKHOUSE

However, analysis of the top podcasts in the UK, USA and Ireland highlights the vast majority of podcasters are male. In the US, 64% of podcast hosts people are paying the most attention to are men, and only 10% of named podcasts come from public broadcaster NPR, highlighting the lack of diversity in podcast news.


USE YOUR INFLUENCE: Quality news, journalism and access to information is an essential ingredient to building safer and more just societies. Brands advertising on news sites and social platforms have influence and can use this in the right way to benefit both the brand and society at large. For example, when brands stop spending they can drive important conversation. Brands could also take the opportunity to fund and support quality journalism and research.

SOCIAL CENTRAL TO NEWS: Got important brand news to share? Make sure you’re thinking of social media in addition to PR. More than that, think what type of platform works best for the type of news you’ve got to share, and who your new ‘Creator Economy’ news amplifiers could be.

A PODCAST FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: if you’re not yet exploring producing or sponsoring a podcast or podcast experience, get exploring - and don’t be afraid of longer-form content. Podcasts can bring people together IRL too – with live podcast shows like My Therapist Ghosted Me. We’ve collaborated with many clients in this space, and even recently launched our own THINKHOUSE podcast THINKING OUT LOUD - check it out here!


Read our two latest Social & Digital Innovation reports on The Succession of Twitter and The Evolution of Vanity Metrics.

We’ve been working with Leave No Trace on its summer campaign to encourage more responsible outdoor recreation. Check it out here.