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Millennials Still Prefer Newspapers for Political News Millennials Still Prefer Newspapers for Political News

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Millennials Still Prefer Newspapers for Political News

Harvard study shows digital generation not relying on social networks for news.

photo of Jim O'Sullivan
March 31, 2011

Reports of the demise of newspapers may be greatly exaggerated.

According to a new Harvard study, the denizens of the digital age -- 18-to-29-year-olds -- would prefer to get most of their political news about the next presidential campaign from -- believe it or not -- major national newspapers.

In the survey from the Harvard University Institute of Politics, 49 percent of respondents in that age group said national newspapers were their preferred source of political news, outranking friends’ Facebook pages (35 percent), official Facebook pages (29 percent), and partisan blogs (22 percent). Mobile alerts scored 19 percent, while friends’ Twitter feeds and official Twitter feeds garnered 17 and 16 percent, respectively.

 

Among college students, the interest in newspapers was even higher, hitting 60 percent.

To be sure, the poll does not differentiate between the dead-tree product and newspaper websites, which allows respondents to aggregate both under the “national newspapers” rubric.

Fewer than 3 in 10 respondents reported using Facebook as “a means of political expression” – a starkly low number considering that 80 percent of them have Facebook accounts.

The survey showed Facebook adoption up from 64 percent a year ago to 80 percent among 18- to 29-year-olds today, including a 90 percent usage rate on college campuses. Twitter proved considerably less relevant, though growing at a faster rate, from 15 percent to 24 percent. MySpace dropped off, from 42 percent to 36 percent.

The poll also showed rebounding support for President Obama among the so-called Millennial Generation, whose approval of his performance ducked below the 50 percent line last October. Fifty-five percent said they approved. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress also saw small upticks in job approval.

Obama gained against a generic a Republican from the October poll, which showed him statistically tied with a generic GOP candidate. In the most recent survey, he led, 38 percent to 26 percent.

Still, by a 2-to-1 split, respondents said the country was on the wrong track. On the economy, the millennials gave Obama low marks, with 42 percent approving and 55 percent disapproving.

A plurality (31 percent) believes that the overall standing of the U.S. in the world will decline over the next decade, while 23 percent said it would improve. Seventy-seven percent of respondents called the nation’s standing in the world a concern.

The survey relied on web-enabled interviews of 3,018 18-to-29-year-olds from February 11 to March 2, and carries a plus/minus 2.4 percent error margin.

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