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Young people prefer to read news

October 13, 2016
Editorial , Lake Placid News

Young people want to read the news in text form, whereas older people prefer watching news on television.

That's from a study the nonpartisan Pew Research Center announced Thursday, just in time for National Newspaper Week, which ends today.

"When it comes to technology's influence on America's young adults, reading is not dead - at least not the news," Pew's Amy Mitchell wrote. "When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web."

Article Photos

Of four age categories surveyed, the 18-to-29-year-old group had the highest proportion preferring to read news - 42 percent. It went down as people got older, with 27 percent of the 65-plus crowd preferring text.

Granted, Pew's studies show that more Americans overall still prefer to watch news (46 percent) than read it (35 percent) or listen to it (17 percent), but that's changing. Young people are gravitating more toward text, whereas the age category that most prefer TV is the oldest, 65-plus (58 percent). Just 38 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds preferred watching news, and of those, 37 percent preferred online video to TV.

So who says newspapers are dying?

The young prefer our main modus operandi. They don't necessarily sit down and go to a news site to get their fill - they're more likely to come to our website by discovering headlines on social media or by Internet searching for information - but still, they're being informed through us. Text is our original specialty: online and on social media as well as in print.

No news medium writes more stories on more topics than newspapers, so we're going to make up a big part of the text news one can find. TV and radio media companies have far fewer reporters and tend to get much of their news from newspapers.

Photos, of course, are another specialty of ours, and look at the popularity of photographic social media among the young. An extensive 2015 study by the American Press Institute showed that Instagram trails only Facebook and YouTube as a daily news source among Millennials age 18-34.

Plus, these days, newspapers often produce video and podcasts as well.

Yes, young people are less likely to pay attention to news than older people, according to a Pew study released in July, but that's always been the case. Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers also slacked on keeping abreast of the news. In this age of smartphones and social media, Millennials and anyone can more easily access news. These days, if you want to know something about what's going on, you can look it up right then and there.

This shows the future of newspapers is bright - or at least should be bright. It's full of opportunity, if we can take advantage of it.

Yes, we know that some newspapers are having hard times, but that is the case with many industries. Usually it's a slippery slope. If a business starts giving its customers less - if, for instance, a newspaper lays off reporters who produce the news people pay for - the customers will see that the business is no longer serving them and will stop buying.

That's not happening at the Enterprise. We're doing better than we did last year - not rich, but solid. We keep a blue-collar spending ethic and shun debt. We have not laid people off, so we're still producing as much news as we ever have, and at what we think is a pretty high level of quality.

We're not where we want to be, so we're putting together a strategic committee whose members will meet in public places where you can join us and share feedback. We'll be telling you more about that as we work out the details.

Still, though, we are happy to report this National Newspaper Week that we're still serving our communities at full capacity and plan to keep it up as long as people are still reading.



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