Johnny Does Read…Online News

Posted on September 25, 2006 
Filed Under Journalism, Social Media

High school students not only pay attention to the news on the Internet, they like traditional news sources more than most might think.

About 51 percent of 15,000 students surveyed say they get mainstream news on the Internet at least weekly, and mostly from portals such as Google and Yahoo, followed by national TV news sites, and local TV and daily newspaper sites. Blogs came in 4th place.

On the flipside, 29 percent say they never get news online, while 10 percent of teens said they have no interest in the news, mostly because they feel it isn’t presented in an engaging way.

“We have to find ways to connect with them now. Let’s not shove a 1950s newspaper report down every young person’s throat and say that it’s good for you like cod liver oil,” said Howard Finberg, Poynter’s director of interactive learning in an interview.

The survey by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation specifically looks at online news consumption.

It doesn’t try to measure how much students get news from other sources, such as television and radio broadcasts, and newspapers.

It does show, however, that the majority of students think TV is the best overall source of news, the most accurate and the easiest to use.

“The digital revolution is increasing, not decreasing, the connection between American teens and news,” said Eric Newton, director of Knight Foundation’s Journalism Initiatives.

A majority of high school students find TV, followed by newspapers, to be the most accurate news sources. They don’t trust the accuracy of blogs, according to the survey.

But despite their reliance on traditional news sources, nearly half of high school students say they also get news and information from entertainment programs like “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report” and “South Park” and others at least once a week.

In the survey sample, 9 out of 10 teens are wired to the Internet through school and 8 out of 10 through the home.

This 2006 survey is the second part of an update to Knight Foundation’s 2004 study, which questioned more than 100,000 students and 8,000 teachers — the largest survey of its kind — about their attitudes and knowledge of the First Amendment. Dr. David Yalof and Dr. Kenneth Dautrich conducted the research for both surveys.

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