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Millennials consume more news than you might think

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When you think of Millennials on Facebook images of cute puppy videos, troves of click bait and personality quizzes aplenty come to mind. But it’s not just a place for viewing distant family’s babies or finding out which Star Wars character you are. According to a study by the American Press Institute, it’s also one of the most popular ways people age 18-34 consume their news.

Of 24 news and information topics asked in a survey, Facebook was the number one reference for 13 and the second choice for 7. Those topics ranged from hard news in politics, crime and international affairs to more passive topics like entertainment subjects, sports and how-to tutorials.

Despite growing cries from teens who are abandoning Facebook because their parents use it, the social media platform remains the most commonly used platform to gather news and information. Fully 88 percent of those surveyed said they get news from Facebook at least occasionally. The next closest platform was YouTube with 83 percent followed by 50 percent on Instagram.

Other social media news sharing sites included Twitter, Pintrest and Reddit.

The younger side of the millennial generation, those between 18 and 21, are more likely to diversify their social media newsgathering. On average, that age group uses nearly four sites while those at the top of the age group, 30-34 year olds, only use a little less than three sites.

And the study also shows that using social media to stay up-to-date on the news is a potentially better way to engage in it. Nearly half of those surveyed said they regularly post or share information on social media and 34 percent leave comments to begin a conversation about the topic. What’s more, 76 percent of Facebook users surveyed said the main reason they use the site is to see what their friends are talking about. Fewer than that, 58 percent, say they use Facebook to find listicles or other humorous posts.

The study debunks some conventional wisdom that younger generations are being “dumbed down” by an influx in soft news and entertainment while being cast out of traditional platforms for harder news topics. The study found that millennials are not narrowly focused. Instead, of the 24 topics asked about in the survey, respondents followed an average of 9.5 of them.

While the most popular topics millennials look at is TV, music and movies, more people say they follow crime, politics, technology, social issues and their local community than pop culture, celebrities or style and fashion. In fact, the only topic that style and fashion beats in this study are topics involving religion or faith.

The study also debunks the notion that millennials are less in tune with what’s happening than their newspaper-reading parents and grandparents.

Of those surveyed, 85 percent said keeping up with the news is at least somewhat important to them and 69 percent said they get news daily. More impressive, 40 percent actually pay for at least one news-specific app or digital subscription.

The data in this survey was compiled among 1,046 adults between 18 and 34 who participated in a web survey. Surveys were conducted in cities across the nation from January 2 until February 5.

To really keep up with the news, it’s probably a good idea to follow Florida Politics on Instagram and SaintPetersblog on Facebook and  Twitter.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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