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Young People Choosing Internet Over Traditional TV for News

(Image credit: Getty Images )

As the protests and unrest over the death of George Floyd continues to play out on television screens, a new report from Horowitz Research underscores a growing disconnect between young viewers and the traditional news media.

Viewers 18-34 years of age get 53% of their news consumption from the internet compared to 21% for traditional television, according to Horowitz’s State of Viewing & Streaming 2020 study.

Young people question whether broadcast networks and cable news services like Fox News, CNN and MSNBC are providing a complete picture of the stories that they cover, according to the survey. Only 33% of 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed believe that television is the best way to get in-depth news reporting and analysis, said Horowitz. In comparison, 56% of adults 25-54 and 64% of adults 35+ offer a more favorable view of traditional television news.

“Can the major broadcast and cable outlets rise to the challenge of providing truth and perspective and less sensationalism?,” said Howard Horowitz, president of Horowitz Research. “Just like social media has provided new ways of exposing discrimination and misconduct, so too has it given young people a new way to view and understand the world around them, providing validation of what is really happening and holding major news outlets more accountable.”

Horowitz also reported that 58% of TV content viewers believe that the media plays a very big role in reinforcing stereotypes, and 68% say that they feel it is important that the media represent diverse people and communities in the U.S. in ways that challenge and break stereotypes.

“Poignantly, we are hearing from staff, family members, and social media that young people feel that their parents and older family members, who rely heavily on TV news, are not getting a well-rounded picture of the protests and why they are happening,” said Horowitz senior VP of insights and strategy Adriana Waterston. “Showing looting and sensationalizing violence creates more fear and obscures the issues of police brutality and persistent systemic racism that these young people are seeing, experiencing, and feeling.”

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.