Millennials, News, and Social Media

Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past? Revised and Updated 2nd Edition

by Paula M. Poindexter (Author)
©2018 Textbook XX, 216 Pages


Five years after the first edition of Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past? was published, a focus on the Millennial generation’s relationship with news is more important than ever. This revised and updated book reports the results of a new survey that reveals changes in news consumption habits and attitudes while painting a detailed portrait of Millennials in a news media landscape now dominated by social media and mobile devices.
Generational, racial, ethnic, and gender differences in news engagement and social media use are examined and so is the historic presidential election that the oldest and youngest Millennials experienced. How Millennials voted, the issues that mattered, and the relationship between their political identity and news is also explored. The spread of fake news, attacks on the press, and the need for news literacy are also discussed.
Since the publication of the book’s first edition, Snapchat and digital subscriptions have emerged and social media sites have become popular platforms for news. How Millennials have responded to these changes in the media landscape is also examined.
Finally, recommendations for further improvement of news coverage of Millennials are proposed. Plus, the book underscores how all segments of society, including news organizations, journalism schools, and tech companies, can work toward a more informed and news literate society, a requirement for viable democracies.
This revised and updated book will appeal to students, scholars, journalists, and everyone who cares about informed and civically engaged citizens and a strong democracy.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Preface to the First Edition
  • References
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: Society Without News Consumers?
  • References
  • Chapter 2: Why Millennials Aren’t Into News
  • Noneducation Socialization Agents
  • Entertainment Media Engagement
  • Social Norm on Importance of Being Informed
  • Motivations and Avoidances
  • What Is News?
  • References
  • Chapter 3: How Millennials Really Feel About News and Coverage of Their Generation
  • Benefits of Engaging with News
  • Grading News Coverage of Millennials
  • Comparing 2011 and 2016 Reasons for Grades
  • A Grade of C Is Below Average
  • Five Years Later, D and F Grades Underscore That News Coverage of Millennials Is Still on the Wrong Track
  • How Millennials Have Been Represented in the News
  • Millennial News That Insults and Hurts
  • References
  • Chapter 4: Too Busy for News; Unlimited Time for Social Media on Smartphones
  • Getting News
  • Reasons Millennials Get News
  • Getting News on Smartphones with Social Media Apps
  • Preferred News
  • Social and Mobile Transformation of News Media Landscape and News Consumer
  • References
  • Chapter 5: Race and Ethnicity, Gender, and Political Identity in Millennial News and Social Media Engagement
  • Race, Ethnicity, and News
  • Gender, News, and Social Media
  • Political Identity, News, and Social Media
  • No One Factor Can Take Credit for the 2008 Turnout That Is Associated with Millennials’ Political Identity
  • Explaining Presidential Election 2016
  • References
  • Chapter 6: Generation Z, the First Post-Millennial Generation, and the Future of News Engagement
  • References
  • Chapter 7: Engaging Millennials with News in a Mobile-First, Social Media World—It’s Not Too Late, Yet
  • Solving the News Engagement Problem Begins with Acknowledging That One Exists
  • Stakeholders Must Acknowledge Problem Matters
  • The Problem Must Be Defined
  • Consequences of Doing Nothing
  • Educating Stakeholders about Millennials
  • Millennial Recommendations for Improving News Coverage
  • Legacy News Media, a Key Stakeholder in Figure 7.1, Must Get Engaged
  • Nonlegacy News Media Must Get Involved
  • Social Media and Search Engines Must Become Active Players
  • News Satire also Has an Important Role
  • News Literacy Advocates Must Step Out of the Shadows and Civic, Education, Business, Foundation, and Political Leaders Must Support Their Efforts
  • Bloggers, Podcasters, Opinion Writers, Commentators, and Cable News Channels Must Not Confuse Their Opinion Role
  • Citizen Journalists Are Citizens First But They Also Have a Journalistic Responsibility
  • What About Journalism Schools?
  • Parents and Teachers Have to Shoulder More Responsibility
  • Passages in the News Engagement Socialization Process
  • Millennials and Post-Millennials Have a Responsibility, Too!
  • References
  • Appendix
  • Appendix A.1 2016 National Survey of News Engagement Questionnaire
  • Appendix A.2 Methodology for 2016 National Survey of News Engagement
  • References
  • Appendix B.1 National Survey of NIE Managers Questionnaire
  • Appendix C.1 mynews@school Teacher Communication and Sample Activities
  • “Getting Acquainted With the E-edition of the Newspaper”
  • Week 2 Sample Activities “What Is News? What Is the Process of Journalism?”
  • News and Journalism
  • References
  • Appendix C.2 Questionnaire for Students Participating in mynews@school Program
  • Appendix C.3 mynews@school Survey Methodology
  • Reference
  • Index

| ix →


Figure 2.1: Millennial, Generation X, Baby Boomer, and Other 20th-Century Generation Facts

Figure 2.2: Dimensions of the News-Centered Object in a Social Media, Smartphone, Tablet Computer World

Figure 2.3: What the Public Should Expect of Journalism According to Kovach and Rosenstiel (2007)

Figure 7.1: Engaging Millennials with News Demands Effort from Many Fronts

Figure 7.2: Best Practices for Covering and Engaging the Millennial Generation

| xi →


Table 1.1: News Consumption by Generation

Table 3.1: Words Millennials Use to Describe News

Table 3.2: Millennials Growing Up with News: 2011 vs. 2016

Table 3.3: Words That Best Describe Millennials’ Feelings About News While Growing Up

Table 3.4: Benefits of Engaging with News: Millennials in 2011 and 2016

Table 3.5: How Millennials Grade News Coverage of Their Generation

Table 3.6: Millennials in the Mainstream News, from Inclusion and Quotes to Multimedia

Table 3.7: News Platforms Created to Engage Millennials

Table 4.1: Generations Getting and Seeking News

Table 4.2: Preferred Platform for News

Table 4.3: Preferred Method of Engaging with News on Smartphones

Table 4.4: News Preferences from Millennials to Baby Boomers

Table 4.5: Social Media Apps and News Engagement

Table 4.6: Why Facebook Users Click on Links to News Stories

Table 4.7: How Millennials Engage with Twitter ← xi | xii →

Table 4.8: Trust of News Sources

Table 5.1: Millennial and U.S. Population Race and Ethnicity

Table 5.2: Relationship between Millennial Race and Ethnicity and News and Social Media Engagement, Attitudes, and Trust

Table 5.3: Gender and News and Social Media Engagement, Attitudes, and Trust

Table 5.4: Millennials’ Political Party Identification and Ideology

Table 5.5: 2016 Presidential Election Votes by Age

Table 5.6: 2016 Issues Important to Voter Age Groups

Table 5.7: Millennials, Political Party, and News Engagement

Table 5.8: Millennials, Political Party, and Social Media Use

Table 5.9: Millennials, Ideology, and News

Table 6.1: Focus of Newspaper in Education Curriculum Materials

Table 7.1: Millennial Statistics in a Mobile, Social, and News World

Table 7.2: Millennial Press Expectations and Attitudes toward Performance

Table A.2: Comparison of National Survey of News Engagement Survey Panel Sample and U.S. Census

| xiii →


Since the first edition of Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past? was published five years ago, the oldest Millennials have graduated college and been in the workplace for over a decade while the youngest are now graduating high school. During this past half decade, Millennials have become even more attached to social media and their smartphones, but have they become more attached to news?

By comparing results from the new National Survey of News Engagement with the original survey, this new edition answers that question and much more. In the first edition, Millennials graded news media coverage of their generation and five years later, they give the news media a follow-up grade. One would expect that over the past five years the grade would have improved, but has it?

Millennials are now the largest living generation and they are the most diverse and most educated with women pulling ahead of men as far as going to college and getting college degrees. Do these racial, ethnic, and gender differences impact news engagement and social media use? That question will be answered.

The new edition will also examine the historic presidential elections that both the oldest and youngest Millennials experienced. The oldest Millennials played a significant role in electing the first African-American president and ← xiii | xiv → both the oldest and youngest Millennials had a chance to vote in an election to elect the first woman president in the United States. How Millennials voted, the issues that mattered, and the relationship between their political identity and news engagement will also be explored. Additionally, the spread of fake news on social media during the election, the attempt of Russia to influence the outcome of the election, and the attacks of the 45th President on the press will be discussed.

Since the publication of the first edition of Millennials, News, and Social Media, Snapchat has emerged and social media have become the go-to platforms for news for this generation. How Millennials use social media sites for news is explored in depth and so are their news engagement behaviors and digital subscriptions.

Generation comparisons—Baby Boomers, Generation X, and younger and older Millennials—will provide insight about preferred news platforms as well as how smartphones are used to engage with news. These data will be a reminder as to how very different today’s news media landscape is from yesterday’s. Finally, just like in the first edition, this new edition will make recommendations for improving news coverage of Millennials and strengthening understanding of a free and independent press and the importance of being informed so that news engagement will not become a thing of the past.

| xv →


My interest in news engagement by young people began long before the Millennial Generation was born. I was at Syracuse University in graduate school searching through the academic journals when I found a study published in 1964 that showed, despite the authors’ assertion that newspaper reading was “one of the most thoroughly institutionalized behaviors of Americans” (Westley & Severin, 1964, p. 45), everyone did not read a newspaper. Having grown up in a home in which my parents subscribed to two newspapers, I was shocked, troubled, and yes, inspired by this study. It became the inspiration for my master’s thesis, my Ph.D. dissertation, my first published study, my subsequent publications, and even for my teaching and public service.

Though my interest in news engagement began with young nonnewspaper readers, that interest has grown to include the diverse factors that facilitate and impede news consumption regardless of type or age of audience. Before the Internet and social media upended the news media landscape and made assumptions about news consumption obsolete, parents were instrumental in developing news consumers because as their child’s first role model, they determined whether news was present in the home and whether, or how, it was engaged with. In homes where news was not present, teachers were invaluable in getting kids to engage with news. ← xv | xvi →

The news industry could have been a leader in developing news consumers, but it “did nothing to help create a new generation interested in news” (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2007, p. 211). Even worse, according to the authors of The Elements of Journalism, the industry had “a business strategy that helped create non-news consumers.”

With the news industry more responsible for creating nonnews consumers than news consumers, fewer role models for news consumption in homes, and fewer teachers devoting class time to cultivating an interest in news because of the demands of standardized test preparation, news consumption has declined. And despite today’s vast array of digital news outlets and mobile devices that can access news anytime and anywhere, the Millennial Generation has not embraced news in the same way in which its grandparents’ generation did.

Who or what is responsible for the rejection of news by the Millennial Generation? Is Millennial enthusiasm for social media related to a lack of affection for news? Is it too late to transform Millennials into consumers of news? Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past? answers these questions and more.


XX, 216
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (March)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XX, 216 pp., 5 b/w ill., 29 tables

Biographical notes

Paula M. Poindexter (Author)

Paula M. Poindexter (Ph.D., Syracuse University) is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of News for a Mobile-First Consumer (Peter Lang, 2016). She is past president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and in that role was responsible for creating "News Engagement Day." Poindexter’s news media experience includes the Los Angeles Times and Houston’s KPRC-TV.


Title: Millennials, News, and Social Media
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238 pages