Gen Z and the news: a fresh perspective on information

Gen Z and the news: a fresh perspective on information 2560 1443 Cèlia Forment

Information consumption patterns and entertainment have evolved over generations. The GenZ –the ones born in the late twentieth or early twenty-first century– today are very concerned about political and social polarization, although they give priority to social media over the legacy media as the main source of information.

That topic is highlighted in a sociological study conducted by experts from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Torres y Carrera consultory to analyze how the GenZ is affected by the proliferation of fake news and social tension.

According to the findings of the study, youth are convinced that fake news and political polarization will continue to grow and trigger greater social tension.

To delve into how fake news are determining that polarization arose after the publication, last March, of a demographic study that revealed that 82% of young people between 16 and 24 use social media as a main source. About rough information, 36.4% of respondents don’t care whether what they read is wrong. And last but not least, half of the respondents are not interested in what is happening in the world.

Well, we think that’s not entirely true. What has changed is the ways we learn and the issues that matter. Young audiences want instant gratification from news without it being dumbed down, according to new research by The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and strategic insight consultancy Flamingo.

The consultancy agency and the Complutense University of Madrid began last year an investigation on fake news with a project, which they called “Proyecto Culebras”. The objective was to analyze four fake social media stories and their impact on “Gen Z”.

Unlike the “millennials” -born in the last two decades of the twentieth century- and adults, young people of the “generation Z” are the only ones who do not show a total distrust of social networks, according to the study from . And it also concludes that there is no such thing as “informative apathy” with which young people are often labeled, although they do not separate the consumption of entertainment content from purely informative ones.

Strong media brands are valued by Generation Z

 The Future Report 2021 by Schibsted Media Group shows that 30% of the respondants believe it is very important that news they consume digitally comes from a well-known brand. The results indicate that the strong, direct relationship between Generation Z and the media is a result of trust. It shows that 73% of respondents trust that news media or journalists provide trustworthy updates digitally. Furthermore, 74% agree with the statement “I like that information I find digitally is fact-checked by a journalist”.

  • Language preferences are one such an example. In the report half of the respondents prefer their official language when they consume digital information. When speaking to respondents in smaller focus groups, some argue that media should offer English articles to those who don’t speak the official language and ensure access to news for all.
  • Length is another example, although the shorter the better. 71% agree with the statement “I like that digital information is short and explained rapidly”. Yet, 36% agree with the statement “I like that digital information is thoroughly explained and takes time to consume”. In the focus groups some argue that media should write short summaries with the option to “read more”.
  • The favorite format of the respondents in the report is to read a text. However, 38% prefer a combination of text, video and sound when they consume digital information. The youngest group (aged 15–20) is more positive towards the use of video. Only a few percent prefer a sound file or podcast.

Based on the report, there is at least one new truth about Generation Z that should be carried along into the future: they value journalism. And now it’s up to media businesses to turn that belief into subscriptions.

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