Where Do Each Generation of Americans Get Their News Online?
During the early days of Internet development in the 1960s, it was originally conceived as a system for the interconnectivity of computer networks to create more stable communication. Little did these developers know that the Internet would literally explode in the 1990s, becoming not only a means of communication but also a source for up-to-date news and information from every corner of the world. Because of the speed by which news is reported on the Internet, one would think that traditional news media like television, radio, and newspapers are slowly being replaced. In reality, however, most people have chosen to get their news from a combination of sources and not just the internet.
Let us take a closer look at the online news habits of three major generations in America today, namely Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.
Baby Boomers were born between the years 1946 and 1964, but they are usually described as belonging to the 50+ age range. This generation is erroneously believed to be the most resistant to computers, smartphones and other technological advancements. In reality, however, Boomers are just as interested in new tech, except that they are more meticulous consumers and would like to know more about the gadget first before dishing out their hard earned dollars. However, once they get involved with a particular tech, they become hooked on it. The same applies to their choices of news.
In a 2010 Pew Internet Report entitled “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer”, Boomers have been getting their news both online and through more traditional media. The report showed that 45% of Boomers prefer to get their news from portal websites like GoogleNews, AOL or Topix. 40% frequently check out websites of noted TV news organizations, like CNN, Fox or CBS, and 15% visit websites of international news organizations, such as the BBC. 36% would go to sites that specialize in certain topics of interest, including politics, entertainment, sports, and health. 36% would also check out the website of their favorite national or local newspapers while still buying these same print media the next day (6-22%).
Generation X consists of individuals who belong to the 30-49 age range. Gen Xers have literally seen the growth of tech and have embraced its many benefits and incorporated them into their lifestyle. It is interesting to note that many of the notable pioneers in computer technology belong to Generation X, including Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and the late Steve Jobs. Gen Xers can be just as meticulous as Boomers in their purchasing of new tech. But unlike the previous generation, they are more inclined to learn about every new gadget or device that is developed and buy them if it catches their interest. Because these Gen Xers have grown together with the Internet, it is not surprising that they have come to rely more heavily on online sources for their news. Same as Boomers, 57% of Gen Xers would first check out portal sites like GoogleNews, AOL and Topix before reading the complete details from CNN, Fox and other TV news organization websites (around 47%). Next in line are the websites of national or local newspapers at 42%. 38% would visit sites that specialize in choice topics, most notable among them are entertainment and politics. They would also subscribe to Twitter and Facebook pages of trusted news organizations and journalists.
The Millennial Generation consists of individuals between the ages of 16 and 29 years old. Not surprisingly, Millennials are more inclined to get their news from sources on the Internet via their laptops, smartphones and gadgets. 56% would first check out the headlines in GoogleNews, AOL and other portal websites, before moving on to reading more about it in comprehensive TV news organization sites, such as CNN, CBS, and Fox (46%). Around 38% would go to sites that focus on specific topics, like entertainment (E! Online and Yahoo! OMG Insider are big favorites) and sports. 30% want to get their news fresh from the source by subscribing to the Facebook and Twitter feeds of noted news organizations and journalists. Unlike the two previous generations, Millennials are not particularly inclined to read the news in newspapers and watch them on TV.
Maria writes for All IT Supported, a leading computer support company that specializes in helping non-technical users solve their technology problems.