If you’ve turned the pages of a newspaper in public to find out what’s going in the world, you may have felt just a bit out of place among all the twenty-somethings using tablets and smartphones for the same purpose.
According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, what you noticed is a profound generational difference in how Americans get their news. Those of us who are 50 and older, more often than not, still like to get our information all at once at regular times of the day. Younger adults, in contrast, like to “graze” throughout the day, chewing on digital bits and pieces of the news.
The difference was most pronounced between the youngest and oldest members of the news audience: 79 percent of 18- to 29-year-old Americans were news grazers, while only 17 percent consumed news at regular times of the day. With people 65 and older, the pattern was almost reversed: 59 percent were regular-interval news consumers, while only 33 percent were grazers.
Pew noted that grazing was most common among people who rely on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter for their news, with 65 percent consuming news throughout the day. Among people who had read a newspaper the previous day — a group that is heavily weighted with older Americans — only 38 percent were grazers. Those who had watched a news telecast were almost evenly split, with 45 percent grazing and 49 percent getting their news at regular intervals. That rough parity may have something to do with the rise of 24-7 cable news networks, which 34 percent of Americans watch, according to Pew.
Another insightful piece of data: 57 percent of Americans ages 50 to 64 still have the habit of watching local TV news broadcasts, as do 63 percent of those 65 and older. Only 28 percent of those age 18 to 29 do the same.
Photo: Jon S via Flickr
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