15% of Americans aged 13-17 watch the local news every day, according to a survey. 15% of Americans aged 13-17 watch the local news every day, according to a survey. Image: Shutterstock
In the United States, 46% of 13-17 year-olds turn to local TV networks for the latest news, according to recent research. In fact, these networks are the leading source of news for the young people surveyed, ahead of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
Which media do 13-17 year-olds turn to for news? Contrary to what you might think, social networks do not come out on top and television has not yet had its day. According to the "Medill News Socialization Study 2023" by Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, surveying 1,507 American teenagers aged 13 to 17, 46% cite local TV as their primary source of weekly news, ahead of national TV (42%) and especially YouTube, the highest ranking social network (37%).
Access to news has been totally transformed by the arrival of "live" functionalities on social networks, enabling internet users and the media alike to expand and proliferate their news content. TikTok has benefited greatly from this, becoming for many users a substitute for their TV set.
"We found that 29% of teens said they encounter news daily. That’s encouraging," said Stephanie Edgerly, professor at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, who oversaw the study. The results proved somewhat surprising to the researchers.
Also read: Influencers overtaking journalists as a news source: Reuters Report
Indeed, television news turned out to be the number one news source for young people. According to the study, 31% of those surveyed watch local TV news every week. That's more than national network news (29%), and cable news (25%). Unsurprisingly, print news is far behind. Only 18% and 13% of young people engage with news via local and national newspapers, respectively, on a weekly basis.
Beyond the TV set itself, it seems to be the style of news broadcast that appeals to young people: "It’s important to keep in mind that when we refer to TV news, we aren’t necessarily referring to watching a big box in your living room," explains Stephanie Edgerly. "Teens may also encounter TV news on their phones and laptops. But there seems to be an accessibility to TV news that appeals to them."
Paula Poindexter, professor at the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Texas at Austin, adds a word of caution: "Regarding the survey’s TV news numbers, what’s not clear is whether teens deliberately turned on TV news or they encountered it because their parents were watching it. We should keep that in mind."
On social networks, particularly TikTok, many news networks, such as the BBC, offer their news broadcasts live on the app.
As for social networks, 37% of young people use YouTube for news, ahead of TikTok (35%), Instagram (33%) and Facebook (29%) on a daily or weekly basis.