BY ALLYSON JUNKERMEIER
Instead of relying on television, younger Americans are using Facebook and other social media sites to stay current on political and government news coverage.
According to the Pew Research Center, 61 percent of the Millennial generation uses Facebook to find news on politics, and 37 percent still catch the news on TV. Looking at the Baby Boomer generation, the numbers are opposite with 39 percent using Facebook and 60 percent with TV as their top source.
Millennials are the group of Americans who were born between 1980 and 1996. The Baby Boomers were the Americans born between 1946 and 1964 who received their name because of the high increase of births at the time. Generation Xers born between 1965 and 1979 bridge the gap between the two generations, and also bridge the gap between these sources with 51 percent using Facebook and about 46 percent using TV.
“Getting news on Facebook is just so easy,” said Colleen Small, a 23-year-old nursing student at County College of Morris. “As you scroll through your newsfeed, articles are constantly being posted or shared, especially now with the presidential campaign going on. We’re all on social media all the time anyway. Why not use it for something useful and educating?”
With Facebook being one of the most used social media sites, news outlets throughout the country they are now sharing their stories with the 151 million Facebook users in the U.S. A poor side connected to news coverage on social media is the lack of trust. Not all news coverage is factual or true, so how can one believe what they read?
“It can be hard to tell which ones are real stories and which ones are fake. That’s the worst part about the Internet,” Small said. “I usually stick to the stories from bigger news outlets like CNN and stories where more than one source has written about it.”
Although there is a low percentage of Millennials who rely on TV for their political coverage, it seems that it’s a better source for overall coverage whereas online coverage usually has trending topics.
“I’m only 20 years old, but I still watch TV to catch up on the news,” said Tom List, a County College of Morris student. “The networks just do such a good job of covering so many different topics from local to international. I’ll look at stories on Facebook or search about a specific news event, but for overall coverage, I always turn on my TV.”
List falls in the lower percentage but said he believes he will always use TV as his main source for news coverage. List also said that he believes that one day nothing will be in print at all, especially newspapers and magazines.
The major concern when it comes to political news is if news outlets are sharing everything the Millennials need to know to make the right choice when it comes to voting.
“The news coverage of the presidential campaign is very important, but they don’t share what needs to be known,” said Rosie Lynch, a communication student at County College of Morris. “Yeah, polls are important because it lets us see how other people think about the candidates, but I want to know what there is to like about them. I think they should do a sit-down interview with each candidate where they just talk about their views and plans for our country.”
Lynch stressed the importance that news outlets play when it comes to political campaigns because in a lot of ways, it’s the only way to obtain the information. She said she hopes that news agencies share the best information that way Americans are educated the most they can be.