Flamingo and Reuters Institute explore young people's news consumption

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Every year, The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University produces the influential Digital News Report, a report detailing the results of a quantitative survey exploring the state of digital news. 

Alongside the Digital News Report, this year Reuters commissioned Flamingo to explore how and why younger age groups consume news.

This study set out to answer two key questions:

1)   How do young people consume news? 

2)   How can news publishers attract young readers, listeners and viewers?

A number of smaller hypotheses were also investigated, such as the impact an individual’s level of interest in the news has on their consumption of it, and areas of interest from the industry conversation, including the relevance of the news agenda for younger audiences, and negativity in the news.

Flamingo used digital tracking, digital diaries, in-home interviews, friendship trios and semiotic analysis to ensure full understanding of the news habits and values of the audience in relation to format, content and tone from three points of view: (i) what people don’t tell us, (ii) what they do tell us, and (iii) what they can’t tell us about their behaviours and motivations.

There were a number of key findings. Broadly speaking, younger audiences are primarily driven by progress and enjoyment in their lives, and this translates into what they look for in news. 

News media is competing for attention with myriad other distractions, and there is a high level of ‘background’ or ‘indirect’ exposure to news (through social media, other online conversations, documentaries and TV shows, etc.). Finally, much of the excitement and gravitas for younger people is on the periphery of the news space (infotainment, lifestyle, cultural, grassroots, bloggers and vloggers). These are not traditional news brands’ area of strength.

And the role of news for young people appears primarily individualistic; it’s about what it can do for them as individuals – rather than for society as a whole.  

Keeping this individuality, grounded in progress and enjoyment, in mind, the study highlighted three things that can help drive engagement with traditional news brands: Personal Utility, Entertainment, and Point of View. 

The study also revealed differences in what is valued from the news, and people’s behaviour with the news, depending on three key areas: the moment, the medium and the person. Four key news moments (dedicated, updated, time-filler, and intercepted) are described in detail in the report, as are the four key types of news consumer (heritage news consumers, dedicated news devotees, passive news absorbers, and proactive news lovers). The impact of the various media was also investigated, revealing key roles, usage, pros and cons of platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and podcasts. 

Lastly, exploration areas of interest from the industry conversation revealed a number of key attitudes towards the news, including an overarching finding that, for a number of reasons, consuming news can often feel like a chore

Based on all of the insight gathered, the report offered a number of provocations around potential payment models, and a detailed guide to producing content to engage younger audiences. It arrives at three key conclusions:

  1. The experience of news should feel as easy and accessible as Facebook and Netflix. 

  2. News brands need to tell stories in ways that fit the expectations of young people and the moments when they are open to news

  3. The way the news media covers stories may need to change (addressing issues such as negativity, stereotypes, diversity and how they present themselves and their content on third party platforms). 

The report was launched at an event held at the News UK building in London and has generated a great deal of industry interest.

The full report can be read here.

If you’d like to know more about how Flamingo could help your brand navigate this media landscape, please contact us at enquiries@flamingogroup.com