Public Release: 

New study identifies four distinct types of millennial news consumers

Research reveals new strategies for connecting with the Millennial generation

NORC at the University of Chicago

Chicago, IL, September 25, 2015--A new study explores the news habits of Millennials and identifies four distinct groups of news consumers. The study, a deeper analysis of a survey conducted earlier in 2015 by the Media Insight Project, finds that as it relates to their information use and the way they consume information about different topics, adults age 18 to 34 are not a monolithic group. The survey results identify the following groups of Millennials who share certain characteristics in their information consumption: the Unattached, the Explorers, the Distracted, and the Activists. The Media Insight Project is a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

"This study identifies truly distinct characteristics that typify each group of news consumers and identifies challenges and opportunities for news publishers attempting to reach the Millennial audience," said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "Clearly they are not a single group."

Some of the key characteristics of each group include:

  • The Unattached: Younger, age 18-24, bump into news, rather than seeking it out. Most have not yet started families or established careers. They primarily go online for social or entertainment activities, and few follow current events. Most do not pay for news, but many still keep up generally with what is going on in the world and are open to differing opinions.

  • The Explorers: Younger, also age 18-24, actively seek out news and information; many demographic similarities to the Unattached, but slightly more men than women. They tend to follow a variety of current events and news-you-can-use topics. Many believe in the social and civic benefits of following news.

  • The Distracted: Older, age 25-34, many have families and are part of the middle class. They tend to not use news for civic or social purposes. They do not actively seek news out and tend to mainly follow lifestyle and news-you-can use topics with direct relevance to their daily lives.

  • The Activists: Older, age 25-34, actively seek out news and information. They tend to have already established families, careers, and a connection to their community. They are racially and ethnically diverse and experienced enough in the world to care about certain issues, and they have enough stability in life to spend energy on those issues. A majority of these Millennials personally pay for a digital or print news subscription.

"The study provides key insights as well as concrete recommendations for publishers wishing to reach Millennials," said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute. "The opportunity lies in recognizing that the Millennial generation is as nuanced as any other and that content creators need to reach different types of Millennials in different ways, and reach them where they are already consuming information."

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About the Survey

This study was conducted by the Media Insight Project, a collaboration of the American Press Institute and The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The study involved multiple modes of data collection, including a qualitative component whose results are not included in this report. However, a detailed description of the qualitative methodology can be found in the main report. The survey was conducted January 5-February 2, 2015, and reached 1,045 adults nationwide between the ages of 18 and 34. Study recruitment was completed through a national probability telephone sample, while the main portion of the questionnaire was administered online. The margin of error was +/- 3.8 percentage points. A full description of the study methodology can be found at the end of the report.

The proper description of the survey's authorship is as follows: This study was conducted jointly by the American Press Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

About the Media Insight Project

The Media Insight Project is a collaboration between the American Press Institute and The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research with the objective of conducting high-quality, innovative research meant to inform the news industry and the public about various important issues facing journalism and the news business. The Media Insight Project brings together the expertise of both organizations and their respective partners, and involves collaborations among key staff at the American Press Institute, NORC at the University of Chicago, and The Associated Press. http://www.mediainsight.org/

About the American Press Institute

Founded in 1946, The American Press Institute conducts research, training, convenes thought leaders, and creates tools to help chart a path ahead for journalism in the 21st century. The Press Institute is an educational non-advocacy 501(c)3 nonprofit organization affiliated with the Newspaper Association of America. It aims to help the news media, especially local publishers and newspaper media, advance in the digital age. http://www.pressinstitute.org

About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world. http://www.apnorc.org

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP. http://www.ap.org

NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. http://www.norc.org

The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at young-eric@norc.org or (703) 217-6814 (cell); Ray Boyer for NORC at boyer-ray@norc.org or (312) 330-6433; or Paul Colford for AP at pcolford@ap.org or info@apnorc.org.

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