Because civic and community affairs are tied to how people view a range of social issues, the Media Insight Project survey of those ages 16 to 40 explores how closely people follow topics like abortion, gun policy, or LGTBQ issues that might appear on the national or local stage. About 15% of Millennials and Gen Z say they most closely follow news about social issues such as abortion, gun policy, or LGBTQ issues, and this section highlights their demographic makeup and news behavior.
Gen Z and Democrats are key segments among those who most closely follow news about social issues
While the audience for social issues such as abortion, gun policy, and LGBTQ issues includes Gen Z and Millennials from a range of communities, races and ethnicities, and education levels, those who follow news on social issues most often are more likely to be women, belong to the Gen Z generation, and identify as Democrats.
Those who most often follow news on social issues are more likely to be Gen Z than Millennials, which is significantly different from those who most closely follow national politics which skews toward older Millennials. Still, about half of those who most closely follow news about social issues are Millennials.
Americans ages 16 to 40 who most closely follow news on social issues are more likely to identify as a Democrat than a Republican or an independent. Nearly 4 in 10 who follow social issues most often are independents or Republicans.
Women are also more likely than men to follow social issues, as two-thirds of women most often follow social issues compared with a third of men.
Half of Gen Z and Millennials who most closely follow news about social issues do so at least daily, but those living in urban areas are more likely than those who live in rural settings to follow these topics as often
Among Gen Z and Millennials who follow news about social issues most often, 48% follow the topic at least daily. This is consistent across generations, race and ethnicity, party affiliation, education, and gender.
However, regional differences do arise. Gen Z and Millennials who most follow this topic and live in urban areas are more likely to consume news about social issues at least daily compared with those who live in rural settings (55% vs. 43%). 1
Gen Z and Millennials who most closely follow news on social issues at least daily are more likely to identify as a Democrat than a Republican (51% vs. 41%).
Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are the social media most used by close followers of news about social issues
Gen Z and Millennials who follow social issues most often turn to Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. About 1 in 4 use Facebook to get news on social issues, and about 1 in 5 use TikTok or Instagram as their main social media source for the topic.
YouTube and Twitter are next, with about 1 in 10 of those who follow social issues closely using each of them as their primary social media platform to get news about social issues.
Individuals, influencers, and affinity publications are the main social media accounts used by close followers of news about social issues
Gen Z and Millennials who closely follow social issues use a variety of social media accounts to get information about the topic, from individuals they do and do not know personally, for example, or from the accounts of traditional news outlets. Accounts of individuals or influencers that they do not know personally are the most-common source for news about social issues, followed by publications that focus on specific populations. Accounts from individuals that they do know personally, online-only publishers, national or international newspapers, and national TV networks are also commonly used to get news about social issues.
Search engines are the most commonly used traditional sources for news about social issues among those who closely follow social issues; national TV networks and word of mouth are also common
The top traditional media sources for Gen Z and Millennials who most closely follow social issues are search engines. National TV networks and national or international newspapers are also common traditional sources. Notably, word of mouth is a more cited source for news about social issues compared with the other most-followed topics.
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- The survey asked, “How would you describe the community you live in now…Urban area, Suburban area, or Rural area?” ↩