Group 3 Authors: Megan Ely, Shirin Hashemian, Mahna Al-Nauimi, Zoe Zissovici, Savannah Stone, Emily Frigon
Our group was tasked with comparing the results of the campus-wide survey with international surveys about news consumption. We used the information provided by our classmates and found international surveys that analyzed the way people get their news around the world. In some ways, our research into the international data showed striking similarities with the AUP student data but there were also a few surprises.
One interesting similarity between AUP students and the international community is the way in which they get their news. The results of the AUP survey showed that around 80% of AUP students access the news through social media. This is consistent with the findings from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in 2016, where 51% of those surveyed across 26 countries reported using social media as a source of news each week, with 28% of 18-24 year olds citing it as their main source of news. This confirmed Reuters’ previous findings showing that desktop use for news consumption continues to fall and that social networks are the most accessed source for news. The strongest growth in this field is seen amongst the 18-24 age group.
The prevalence of social media as a news source is only increasing, according to Reuters. In their 2016 report on news consumption, Reuters showed that social media has surpassed television as a primary news source in the 18-24-year-old demographic for the first time. This is consistent with AUP as well, since the number of students who access news via social media and news websites far surpassed any other news category, including television.
Aside from news sources, the data collected from the AUP student body and international trends showed similarities in the language in which most news is consumed. The AUP data showed that 80 of the respondents, nearly everyone, accessed their news in English. Of this number, 40 respondents also consumed news in French and seven people in Spanish. Thirteen respondents selected the ‘other’ category for languages, which is not surprising given the diversity of the AUP student body. These findings correlate with a survey by the Broadcast Commission in 2011, which shows that English is the most commonly accessed language for news stories. Unlike our AUP data, the Broadcast Commission found that the second language was Chinese and Spanish comes in third. Studies show that 74% of news articles are monolingual (only appear in one language) and 94% of articles are disseminated in fewer than six languages. The dominance of English as the language most used for news is interesting as it shows that there are more opportunities to access news if one reads English.
An interesting diversion by AUP from international data analysis, is the type of news content accessed by each group. While international surveys claim that people who use social media to get their news are more interested in soft news, the AUP students who use social media for news are more interested in hard news. Further, when it came to gender and news consumption, males and females from both samples differed. The Media Briefing demonstrates that males tend to consume more politics and sports related news stories, while females tend towards entertainment, health and local news. This does not hold true for our campus survey. However, we observe that of the 80 respondents, only eight were male so the sample did not provide a reliable picture of male versus female news consumption.
Another paradox presents itself when trying to gage the level of trust people have in the news. A study by the Pew Research Center shows that of the Americans accessing news online, only 4% fully trust the news they are reading and 30% somewhat trust it. The AUP community results also show that online sources are also only somewhat trusted, although the vast majority of AUP students use online sources for news. The concept of trust in a news source is quite subjective, however, and as time goes on, these results may change given the characteristics of a sample group. The idea of distrusting one’s main news source is interesting and asks the question of how people rank their level of trust in a source and whether they will seek a more ‘trustworthy’ source of news rather than staying online and reading what they perceive to be as potentially untrustworthy stories.
In conclusion, the AUP community seems to be very similar to the international millennial community when it comes to news consumption. This is evidenced through how and in what languages AUP students access the news, as well as their level of trust in their news sources. There remain differences, however, in the content of news consumed by AUP students and respondents of larger scale international surveys. Overall, although AUP only provided a small sample of news consumers, it was a diverse group and stayed consistent with the findings from established news surveys from around the world.
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