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Motivations for keeping up with the news

One dimension of understanding news and information that is becoming more important today is how people use the news and information they encounter. In an age when consumers can decide what they want to follow and how, and when their reactions and use of the information they consume is more public, it becomes more critical that news providers understand not just what consumers look at but what they do with it next. News, rather than product that is fed by media gatekeepers to citizens with limited choices, is now better understood by publishers as a service that consumers use for different purposes.

The survey tried to probe this by asking Millennials the reasons that they consume news and information and what they do with it.

While there were clear differences in what the various ethnic groups do online, there were fewer in the way they use news.

Millennials across racial and ethnic groups tend to use news and information in similar ways.

African American and Hispanic Millennials do not differ significantly from Millennials overall in terms of how they use news and information. The survey asked respondents to select the main reasons they personally use news and information out of a list of 12 items. These items fit into three general categories: civic engagement, social networking, and practical information. The results reveal that whites, African Americans, and Hispanics share similar motivations for getting news and information, with one exception: white Millennials are more likely than African American and Hispanic Millennials to say they use news and information to help them decide where they stand on different issues (54 percent vs. 38 percent vs. 36 percent).

% All Millennials % Whites % African Americans % Hispanics
It helps me stay informed to be a better citizen 57% 59% 57% 53%
I like to talk to friends, family, and colleagues about the news 53% 56% 49% 44%
It’s enjoyable or entertaining 53% 54% 53% 50%
It helps me decide where I stand on things 47% 54% 38% 36%
It helps me feel connected to my community 45% 44% 53% 39%
It helps me find places to go and things to do 39% 40% 42% 34%
It helps me take action to address issues I care about 35% 35% 36% 30%
It helps me stay healthy 26% 24% 32% 25%
It helps me solve problems 24% 24% 25% 23%
It helps me manage my money 24% 23% 23% 26%
It helps me in my job 24% 24% 22% 26%
It helps me raise my family 14% 12% 16% 15%
Other 5% 5% 2% 4%

Data Source: Question: People use news and information in different ways. What are the main reasons you, personally, tend to use news and information? Please select all that apply.

Media Insight Project

The survey also asked the different groups a more general question about news—how important they felt it was to keep up with the news. A majority of Millennials say it is at least somewhat important to them personally to keep up with the news: 38 percent say it is very or extremely important, 47 percent say it is somewhat important, and 15 percent say it is not very or not at all important. Whites, African Americans, and Hispanics place similar levels of importance on keeping up with the news.

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