Wave after wave of digital innovation has introduced a new set of influences on the public’s news habits. Social media, messaging apps, texts and email provide a constant stream of news from people we’re close to as well as total strangers.
News stories can now come piecemeal, as links or shares, putting less emphasis on the publisher. And hyper levels of immediacy and mobility can create an expectation that the news will come to us whether we look for it or not. How have these influences shaped Americans’ appetite for and attitudes toward the news? What, in other words, are the defining traits of the modern news consumer?
In 2016, Americans express a clear preference for getting their news on a screen – though which screen that is varies. TV remains the dominant screen, followed by digital. Still, TV news use is dramatically lower among younger adults, suggesting further shake-ups to come.
Personal contacts are also a common source of news and can play an amplified role online. But Americans see clear distinctions between news organizations, friends and family, and more distant individuals.
Few have a lot of confidence in the information they get from professional outlets or friends and family, but large majorities have at least some trust in both; social media gets substantially lower trust scores.