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That Shrinking News Audience

October 8, 2013

News organizations have struggled with shrinking audiences for more than a decade, a trend that may only worsen over time, Poynter reports. In a Pew Research survey of news-consumption habits, younger and middle-aged audiences seem unlikely to ever match the avid interest in news demonstrated by the generations they will replace, even as younger audiences turn to the Internet as their principal source of news.

So-called “Gen Xers” (33 to 47 years old) and “Millennials” (18 to 31), who began their adulthoods spending less time following news than older people do, have shown little indication they will consume news more heavily as they age. News consumption appears to have been declining with each successive generation, with members of the “Silent” generation (ages 67 to 84) spending 84 minutes watching, reading or listening to news the day before the survey interview, compared to 77 minutes for “Boomers” (ages 48 to 66), 66 minutes for Xers, and 46 minutes for Millennials.

Older people simply enjoy news more, the research suggests. Perhaps most troubling for newspapers, readership from younger audiences on digital devices is modest and has done little to offset declines in print readership among these groups. Television news viewership is also markedly lower among younger age groups. Radio is the traditional news source that has held its own the best among younger audiences. As Poynter reports, social media has the potential to boost news consumption among younger generations, but so far has done so only modestly. — Greg Beaubien


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