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Young News Readers Rare

Have you seen, read or clicked on the news?

July 23, 2007

News may be an endangered species if teenagers and young adults continue to follow the news as little as they do now.

That is the main finding of "Young People and News," conducted by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The Center surveyed 1,800 Americans on their news habits, and found that younger people generally do not follow the news as often or as closely as older adults.

Only 16% of young adults ages 18 to 30 said they read a newspaper every day, and 9% of teenagers said they did. By contrast, over a third of adults older than 30 read a newspaper daily.

Select News Media Used by US Teen Consumers, by Frequency, January-March 2007 (% of respondents)

As for other news sources, teenagers and young adults were twice as likely to get daily news from television than from the Web.

Usage of Select News Media by US Teen Consumers, January-March 2007 (% of respondents)

Harvard professor and study author Thomas Patterson said, "What's happened over time is that we have become more of a viewing nation than a reading nation, and the Internet is a little of both. My sense is that, like it or not, the future of news is going to be in the electronic media, but we don't really know what that form is going to look like."

The future of newspapers is a separate issue from whether people follow the news, but Mr. Patterson has a point. Reading is an also-ran for teenagers compared to time spent with TV and the Internet.

Among teens ages 15 to 18, TV consumed 2.5 hours per day, while Internet use took up nearly 1.5 hours, according to a Veronis Suhler Stevenson report published in September 2006. The report cited data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, PQ Media and Teen Research Unlimited.

Daily Usage* of Select Consumer Media among US Tween and Teen Consumers, by Age, 2005 (hrs:mins)

The eMarketer Kids and Teens report will be published in September 2007. To be notified when it is released, click here.

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