By Caroline Little
Newspaper Association of America
It has become a never-ending quest to define millennials.
Those between the age of 18 and 34 are often portrayed as a self-absorbed, narcissistic generation obsessed with technology.
They are a group more likely to check their Twitter or Instagram apps than keep up with world events. In fact, voters age 18-29 made up a mere 13 percent of the vote in the recent mid-term elections.
So you’re probably thinking, “Millennials are not engaged with the news.”
Since Time Magazine dubbed millennials as the “Me Me Me Generation,” that has been the prevailing thought. But that is not true.
Recent studies show that America’s 80 million millennials are a generation of civically-minded, globally-aware individuals who rely on newspaper media to be engaged and informed. There will be media pundits who push through with their millennial stereotypes while ignoring the data.
The digital audience for newspapers hit a new high of 164 million in August, and that growth was driven by young adults, particularly women. Compared to August 2013, young women (ages 18-24) were the fastest-growing segment of the newspaper digital audience, rising 38 percent.
Likewise, 92 percent of women ages 25-34 read newspaper digital content, the greatest reach among any age or gender.
These numbers indicate that millennials continue to engage with newspaper media content. It should be no surprise that they largely consume news through mobile devices and digital platforms. Overall, 71 percent of millennials access newspaper content online in a month.
Though many will exclusively consume news digitally, it would be foolish to dismiss print. The New York Times, for example, reported 10 percent of its print subscribers were between the ages of 18 and 24.
According to Nielsen Scarborough research, more than half – 55 percent – of those 18 to 34 read a print newspaper in a typical week.
These facts showcase a generation that actively seeks out news to become thoughtful, informed members of society.
It is noteworthy that newspaper content is an essential part of their media consumption because it proves newspapers provide a level of trust other forms of media cannot. Perhaps that’s why some 60 percent consider their local newspapers to be trustworthy, according to Nielsen, while only 43 percent agree that social media sites can be trusted.
Why does this generation have a preference toward newspaper media content? For one, they care a lot more about reliability than speed, which flies in the face of conventional stereotypes.
According to YouthPulse, 67 of young people would rather be the last to know about something but have the information be accurate, and 72 percent prefer to be the source of information to a friend, instead of vice versa.
It all comes down to trust. Millennials are serious about educating themselves and being global citizens.
Like previous generations, they need to ensure their time is well spent and what they read can be trusted.
The wide-reach of newspapers is especially good news for advertisers looking to reach this elusive demographic, as millennials of both genders take advantage of circulars and print advertising to plan shopping decisions.
New research conducted by Frank Magid Associates for the Newspaper Association of America found 73 percent acted on a newspaper ad they saw in the past month, typically searching online for additional information about the product or service.
Is it really a surprise that the reach of newspaper media continues to grow in audience and relevancy among the younger generation?
Whether you’re 22, 32 or 52 – all roads to information lead back to newspaper media.
It’s time for advertisers and marketers to rethink how to engage with millennials.
Caroline Little is president and chief executive officer of the Newspaper Association of America.