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The impact of race and ethnicity on news and information topics followed by Millennials

The Personal News Cycle revealed that the type of news people choose to follow varies significantly by race and ethnicity in the general population, 1 and these new data reveal a similar trend among adults age 18-34.

In the current study, Millennials were asked if they regularly follow 24 different news and information topics. Significant racial and ethnic differences emerged for nine of the topics.

African American Millennials report following some lifestyle topics at higher rates than their peers. Overall, 35 percent of Millennials follow news about celebrities or pop culture. However, 56 percent of African Americans say they follow this type of news, about double the proportions of whites (29 percent) and Hispanics (28 percent) who say they follow this type of news. Similarly, just 26 percent of Millennials follow news about style, beauty, and fashion. Yet half of African Americans do so, making them about twice as likely as Hispanics (26 percent) and nearly three times as likely as whites (18 percent) to follow these topics.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Music, TV, and movies 66% 63% 72% 67%
Sports 49% 53% 51% 44%
Food and cooking 44% 44% 48% 43%
Health and fitness 40% 39% 47% 38%
Celebrities or pop culture 35% 29% 56% 28%
Local restaurants or entertainment 35% 38% 35% 31%
The arts and culture 29% 27% 34% 26%
Style, beauty, and fashion 26% 18% 50% 26%

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

When it comes to regularly following news on general information topics, the proportion of white and African American Millennials differs for three of the four topics: information related to their interest or hobbies (67 percent of whites vs. 46 percent of African Americans); information related to their job, industry, or profession (48 percent of whites vs. 34 percent of African Americans); and advice or how-to information (47 percent of whites vs. 32 percent of African Americans). There are no racial or ethnic differences when it comes to price comparisons or product research.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Information related to my interests or hobbies 61% 67% 46% 51%
Information related to my job, industry, or profession 44% 48% 34% 34%
Advice or how-to information 43% 47% 32% 39%
Price comparisons or product research 37% 37% 33% 35%

Data Source: Question: Now, we’d like to ask about different information topics you may keep up with. Which of these topics, if any, do you regularly follow? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

Among current events topics, whites and Hispanics are more likely than African Americans to say they follow news about science and technology (46 percent vs. 44 percent vs. 27 percent), the environment and natural disasters (39 percent vs. 36 percent vs. 16 percent), and foreign affairs (30 percent vs. 35 percent vs. 17 percent).

For whites and Hispanics, traffic and weather is the most commonly followed current events topic. For African Americans, however, the topic of crime and public safety is most commonly cited. These data were collected in January-February 2015, after months of press coverage of police-involved deaths of African American men in the United States. Crime and public safety is the third most commonly followed news topic for Hispanics, behind traffic and weather, and science and technology. It’s the fourth most commonly followed news topic for whites, behind traffic and weather, national politics and government, and science and technology.

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
Traffic or weather 51% 54% 41% 49%
Crime and public safety 44% 42% 44% 43%
National politics and government 43% 49% 35% 31%
Science and technology 43% 46% 27% 44%
Information about my city, town, or neighborhood 41% 41% 42% 41%
Social issues like abortion, race, and gay rights 37% 40% 31% 29%
Health care and medical information 35% 32% 39% 38%
The environment and natural disasters 35% 39% 16% 36%
Schools and education 33% 31% 42% 31%
Foreign or international news 30% 30% 17% 35%
Business and the economy 29% 30% 25% 26%
Religion and faith 22% 22% 18% 24%

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

Like Millennials overall, African American and Hispanic Millennials cite Facebook and search engines as the main ways they get their news on lifestyle and news-you-can-use topics. But, there is more variation by race and ethnicity when it comes to getting news on current events topics. For seven of the 12 current events topics, the most commonly cited source of information differed by race and ethnicity. For example, of those who say they follow news and information about crime and public safety, African Americans are nearly twice as likely as Hispanics to turn to local television news to get information on this topic (60 percent vs. 34 percent).

Millennials differ by race and ethnicity when it comes to the most commonly cited way of getting news on current events topics

Top way of getting current events topics

Topic Overall Whites African Americans Hispanics
Traffic and weather Local TV station Local TV station Local TV station Local TV station
Crime and public safety Facebook Local TV station Facebook/ Local TV station Facebook
National politics and government Facebook Facebook / National TV network Facebook Local TV station / National TV network
Science and technology Search engine Search engine Search engine Search engine
Information about my city, town, or neighborhood Facebook Local TV station Facebook Local TV station
Social issues like abortion, race, and gay rights Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook
Health care and medical information Search engine Search engine Facebook Local TV station
The environment and natural disasters Facebook Facebook Local TV station Facebook
Schools and education Word-of-mouth Word-of-mouth Facebook Search engine
Foreign or international news National TV network National TV network National newspaper Search engine
Business and the economy Search engine National TV network Local TV station Search engine
Religion and faith Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook

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

Media Insight Project

  1. Among the 15 news and information topics respondents were asked about in The Personal News Cycle, significant differences in the proportions of whites, Hispanics, and African Americans emerged for seven of the topics.

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