Where We Get Our News in 2016

In his paper “Citizens’ Engagement in Policymaking and the Design of Public Services,” Brenton Holmes, a senior researcher at Australia’s Parliamentary Library, states, “The theory and practice of public administration is increasingly concerned with placing the citizen at the (center) of policymakers’ considerations, not just as target, but also as agent.” News consumption is one area where citizens must be considered. To accurately communicate your messages to the public, you should understand where people get their news in 2016.

Public Considers Cable Television News a ‘Helpful’ News Source

As the U.S. presidential election nears, Americans aren’t overlooking cable television news. The Pew Research Center surveyed 3,760 U.S. adults and found that 91 percent who had learned of the election in the week before the survey believed cable television news was their “most helpful” news source.

Cable outranked social media and local television coverage by 10 percentage points, according to the survey results. This medium was most popular among seniors ages 65 or older; every demographic, except 18- to 29-year-olds who preferred social media, chose cable television news as their news source of choice, according to the survey.

Social Media Emerges as Online News Source of Choice

Image via Flickr by Jason A. Howie

The number of American adults using social media as a news source is growing at a significant rate. In its “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016” report, the Pew Research Center noted 62 percent of adults access news through social media platforms. Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter were all news sources for more than half of Americans. Four years ago, only 49 percent of U.S. adults noted seeing news on social media.

While platforms like MySpace may fall out of favor, Mordecai Lee and Ethan Lee Elser are confident social media will continue to be a key news source. In an article for the American Society of Public Administration, the authors boldly state that social media is not a fad, something that professionals studying for degrees in public administration should take note. Instead, social media is a key element of what Lee and Elser call “Web 2.0.” While the authors acknowledge that public administrators adapted to communicating with citizens through Web 1.0, they suggest that presenting news through social media is the next challenge for public administrators.

Online News Channels Are Among the World’s Most Popular News Sources

Social media channels aren’t the only online sources for the world’s population to consume news. The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s recently released Digital News Report 2016 discovered that while 51 percent of people surveyed around the world used social media for news, the figure rose to 82 percent when considering all online channels.

With 68 percent of American adults owning a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center, much online news consumption occurs on mobile devices. While some people may worry the rise of mobile browsing may end long-form news stories, the Pew Research Center report “Long-Form Reading Shows Signs of Life in Our Mobile News World” found that people spent considerable time engaged with long-form news reports.

The nature of news consumption is changing, and public administrators must consider this change carefully. For the most current information about all aspects of public administration, consider studying for a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy.