How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America’s First Digital Generation

The Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and the AP-NORC Center, conducted a nationwide survey along with qualitative group interviews to take a fresh look at the news habits of Millennials.

For years, researchers and social critics have worried that the newest generation of American adults is less interested in news than those who grew up in the pre-digital age.

Much of the concern has come from data that suggest adults age 18-34—so-called Millennials—do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch television news, or seek out news in great numbers. This generation, instead, spends more time on social networks, often on mobile devices. The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed. [1]  

A new comprehensive study that looks closely at how people learn about the world on these different devices and platforms finds that this newest generation of American adults is anything but “newsless,” [2] passive, or civically uninterested.

This study extends the work from the Media Insight Project’s 2014 Personal News Cycle to provide a deeper investigation of the news and information habits of Millennials age 18-34. It included two components — a quantitative survey of Millennials nationwide and qualitative interviews and follow-up exercises with small friend groups of Millennials in Chicago, Illinois; San Francisco and Oakland, California; and at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The researchers sought to supplement the quantitative survey research with a qualitative component to obtain a deeper understanding of Millennials’ online lives and news consumption habits.

The survey reached 1,045 adults nationwide between the ages of 18 and 34. The qualitative component included ten semi-structured group interviews with a total of 23 Millennials.


  1. These concerns have been raised repeatedly by researchers and authors, including Paula M. Poindexter in Millennials, News and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past? (Peter Lang Publishing, 2012); by various work from the Pew Research Center,; and by political researchers such as Mark Mellman in “The Young and the Newsless,”
  2. The term appears in Poindexter’s book, in Mellman’s writing, and is the title of a book by Christina Tangora Schlachter, Newsless: How the American Media is Destroying Democracy (CSRL Publishing, 2009).