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How the news habits of those Millennials who pay differ from those who do not

From a distance, Millennials who pay personally for news look fairly similar in their online habits to those who don’t pay.

They are equally as likely to be daily Facebook users (43 percent for payers and 45 for non-payers). They are similarly just as likely to use social networks to keep up with friends (both at 71 percent), to play games online (46 percent for payers and 45 percent for non-payers), or to go online for information about events, movies, or restaurants (58 percent for payers and 55 for non-payers). They are just as likely to be on Twitter several times a day (8 percent for news payers and 9 percent for non-payers).

But dig deeper and differences begin to emerge. For instance, people who pay personally for at least one news subscription, product, or service are more likely to check traffic and weather (64 percent) on a regular basis than people who don’t pay for any news (53 percent).

More revealing, in some ways, is that those who pay for news have some distinct behaviors and attitudes that distinguish them from those who do not personally pay for news.

For instance, those who personally pay for at least one news subscription, product, or service are more likely to use news to help them professionally and are also more likely to be participatory in their use of news on social networks—posting articles, commenting on them, and tweeting about them. They are more likely to follow certain subjects than those who do not pay for news.

Do not personally pay for news Personally pay for news
Checking and sending email 71% 75%
Streaming music, TV, or movies 66% 71%
Keeping up with what's going on in the world 60% 71%
Keeping up with what friends are doing 71% 71%
Pursuing hobbies 63% 68%
Checking the weather, traffic, or public transportation 53% 64%
Shopping or research products 55% 59%
Finding information about events, movies, restaurants, etc. 55% 58%
Playing games 45% 46%

Data Source: Question: Which of the following activities, if any, would you say you do regularly online? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

Millennials who pay for news are more likely to engage with news on social media

While paying for news does not relate to social media use in general, it is associated with more news-related activities on social networks. On Facebook, for instance, those who pay for news are more likely than those who do not to post or share a news story they have read online (49 percent vs. 38 percent), to comment on a news story on Facebook (40 percent vs. 29), and to like a news story (65 percent vs. 56 percent).

On Twitter, those who pay personally for news are more likely than those who do not to compose a tweet about something news related (31 percent vs. 20 percent), to tweet a news story they have read on other websites (29 percent vs. 18 percent), and to see what’s trending (19 percent vs. 13 percent).

Motivations for using news differ among those who personally pay for news and those who do not

People who pay for news are also more likely to report using news to help themselves either personally or professionally. News subscribers and those who pay for news products, for instance, are more likely than those who do not personally pay for news to use news and information to decide where they stand on things (52 percent vs. 44 percent), to help them with their job (29 percent vs. 20 percent), and to manage their money (28 percent vs. 22 percent).

Yet some elements of news use do not distinguish those who are inclined to pay out of their own pocket. Interestingly, Millennials who personally pay for news are just as likely as those who do not pay to say they get news because they find it enjoyable or entertaining (55 percent vs. 52 percent). There is no significant difference between the two groups in saying they get news to feel more connected to their community (49 percent vs. 43 percent) or to be informed to be a better citizen (56 percent vs. 59 percent).

In short, rather than news as a way to pass the time or be a good citizen, paying for news appears to be more connected to things that are tangible — managing the traffic and weather, helping your career, deciding where you stand on issues.

Millennials who pay for news are more likely to follow several news topics, including many current events

There are also some differences in the lifestyle topics that those who personally pay for news and those who do not pay follow in the news. Millennials who personally pay for news are more likely than those who do not pay, for instance, to follow information about food and cooking (50 percent vs. 41 percent) and the arts and culture (35 percent vs. 25 percent). Those who pay for news out of their own pocket are also more likely to follow sports (56 percent vs. 44 percent).

However, for other topics there are no differences between those who personally pay for news and those who do not. Everyone in fairly equal measure, for instance, seems to follow certain entertainment and lifestyle topics — in particular music, TV, movies, health, and fitness.

Do not personally pay for news Personally pay for news
Music, TV, and movies (including reviews, showtimes, etc.) 65% 68%
Sports 44% 56%
Food and cooking (including recipes) 41% 50%
Health and fitness 37% 44%
Local restaurants or entertainment 34% 37%
Celebrities or pop culture 33% 36%
The arts and culture 25% 35%
Style, beauty, and fashion 24% 28%

Data Source: Question: Here are some lifestyle news and information topics. Which of these topics, if any, do you regularly follow? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

There are even more noticeable, and in some ways predictable, differences when it comes to news that falls into the category of current events.

Fifty-one percent of Millennials who personally pay for news regularly follow news about national politics or government compared with 38 percent of those who do not pay for news. Those who personally pay for news are also more likely than those who do not pay to follow health care and medical information (42 percent vs. 31 percent), schools and education news (39 percent vs. 28 percent), and information about business and the economy (35 percent vs. 25 percent).

Do not pay for news Pay for news
National politics or government 38% 51%
Crime and public safety 42% 47%
Science and technology 41% 45%
Health care and medical information 31% 42%
Social issues 36% 39%
Schools and education 28% 39%
The environment and natural disasters 34% 38%
Business and the economy 25% 35%
Foreign or international news 27% 34%
Religion or faith 20% 25%

Data Source: Question: Here are some current events news and information topics. Which of these topics, if any, do you regularly follow? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

With only a few exceptions, Millennials who personally pay for news and those who do not pay use similar pathways to find news

Finally, do those who pay for news out of their own pocket take a different gateway to the news than those who do not pay? Are they more likely to go straight to news sources and less likely to discover news through social networks? The answer is that, with only a few exceptions for a couple of topics, there are very few differences. And for many topics, Facebook and search engines are the most commonly cited paths to the news even among those who personally pay for a news subscription, product, or service.

Both groups, for instance, are most likely to cite local TV news as their source for traffic and weather, much as older groups of Americans are. Those who personally pay for news are somewhat more likely to cite local TV news as their top path to community news. Both groups are most likely to use search engines to find science news. Those who personally pay for news are somewhat more likely to cite national television sources (broadcast or cable) as their path to foreign or business news. Otherwise, there are few differences.

And even when Facebook or search engines are not the most commonly cited source of news about a topic, these sources are frequently used by those who personally pay for news. For example, national television is the most commonly cited source for news about business and the economy among those who personally pay for news (41 percent), but nearly as many of them use a search engine (40 percent).

Millennials who personally pay for news and those who do not are relatively similar in getting news on current events

Topic Most common source for those who personally pay for news Most common source for those who do not pay for news
Traffic or weather Local TV station Local TV station
Crime and public safety Facebook Facebook
National politics and government Facebook Facebook
Science and technology Search engine Search engine
Information about my city, town, or neighborhood Local TV station Facebook
Social issues like abortion, race, and gay rights Facebook Facebook
Health care and medical information Search engine Facebook
The environment and natural disasters Local TV Facebook
Schools and education Facebook Word of mouth
Foreign or international news National TV network Facebook
Business and the economy National TV network Search engine
Religion and faith Word of mouth Facebook

Data Source: Question: Where do you most often get your information on this topic? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

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