Why Aren’t Millennials Watching the News?

Emma Tennyson-Hickey, Wold Page Editor

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For the majority of middle aged Americans, cable news is a trusted source that provides information about current domestic and international events. Watching the news after a day of work has become an American pastime that many families enjoy. But this once trusted source has an increasing perception of bias by millennials. More and more young people are seeking news at non-cable sources, these include; social media, news websites, and apps. Why is this distrust growing and how is it influencing America?

According to the Pew Research Center/ Politico, “Among 18-29 year olds, 35% said social media is the most helpful source for news on the trail. News websites and apps come in second (18%). Then comes cable news (12%), radio (11%) and local TV (10%).” A massive contrast is present within the statistics as we explore older age groups. “Adults 30 and older primarily rely on cable news, and as age groups increase, so does that reliance. Adults 50 and older listed television platforms as their top three sources – cable TV (43%), network nightly news (17%) and local TV (10%).” Cable news has generations upon generations of history within the United States, why is there such an extreme plummet within millennials? Reflecting on this question junior Noah Kriegel stated, “I think that a lot more of the liberal/democratic biased news is on websites and this affects millennials more, because younger people tend to use the Internet to get their news, and that the more conservative/republican news is shown on cable (like fox) and stereotypically, older people tend to use cable and TV more than they would use internet based technology.”
Corporate interest is one of the most critical factors that has contributed to the toxic environment many news stations are forced to produce “honest reporting.” In 1983, 50 companies owned 90 percent of media outlets in America, in 2011, just six outlets owned the same percentage. To further explain these stations must be broken down by corporation. Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, News Corp and the most controversial of them all, GE. General Electric most notable properties are Comcast, NBC (and MSNBC), Universal Pictures, and Focus Features. Specific control over major news networks such as NBC and MSNBC has been described as “problematic” and even “dangerous.”
Mainstream establishment media has long been associated with the term bipartisanship. Bipartisanship means “a political situation, especially in the context of a two-party system, as is the case for countries such as the United States, in which opposing political parties find common ground through compromise, in theory”. In terms of major media outlets bipartisanship is often used to describe the strong divisions between the philosophies of political parties. Warwick Valley High School English teacher Kirk Thomas stated, “I think if you look at this from a psychological perspective there is always going going to be confirmation bias. We will seek information that reconfirms our preconceptions, or the way that we interpret the world”. Mr. Thomas continued by stating, “I think that various forms of media or various media outlets understand that certain members of their target demographic are looking for that confirmation of their beliefs. I think that is why we are seeing more polarization of the media because people simply want to be right and they are looking for information that confirms their beliefs or values.”
The sanctity of American journalistic integrity seems to be increasingly compromised due to these overwhelming problems within cable news. Cable news seems to be its own worst enemy as more and more factors come to light about the reliability of their information. As millennials continue to reach for their phone rather than the remote when searching for news, a new generation of news platforms will grow and shape the way we see our world.

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Why Aren’t Millennials Watching the News?