Our representative survey (May 2015) found that television news is still the most used news medium within all age categories (16-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55+).
Moreover, our results show that (also by young people aged 16-34) social media are far less important for news use than has regularly been suggested. This remarkable finding is supported by multiple of our research methods: the survey, Q Sort, in-depth interviews and think-aloud protocol.
Appreciation of a news product does not always result in use of the news product. Accessibility, usability and situational fit are essential.
The interactive functionalities of social network sites are only moderatedly used for news. Messaging services such as Whatsapp, which are less public and thus offer more control for users, are an important way for people to disseminate and discuss news during news events. This finding is supported by our Q Sort, in-depth interviews and think-aloud protocol.
The social media use of 16-25 year olds is moving from Facebook towards Instagram and Snapchat use. At these platforms however, youth hardly consume or share any news. Television and news apps are found more valuable for news than social media, because they offer an overview and interpretation.
Social media differ in the extent to which they facilitate public engagement via news use. The use of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for news is positively related to political engagement, while for Facebook, this is not the case.
The effect of Twitter and YouTube use on political participation is mediated through online political discussion.
The appreciation for personalized news is scarce. While news users see they appreciate personalized news, their actual news use suggests the opposite. It takes participants too much effort, they don’t want to miss important updates and they prefer a professional news selection. A survey (N=270) confirms this finding.
A conceptual vocabulary has been created for news use, making it possible to address changing patterns of news use. The research participants distinguished 16 different user activities: reading, watching, viewing, listening, checking, snacking, monitoring, scanning, searching, clicking, linking, sharing, liking, recommending, commenting and voting.
A vocabulary has been developed that distinguishes between 30 clicking patterns of news users. Clicking was found to be a limited measure of news interest. Headlines – that can be viewed without clicking – mostly offer sufficient information. Browsing patterns give a more complete view on news interest and news use.
The approach for reporting political news – rather than the topic – determines the engagement of viewers of current affairs shows. Their pleasure in viewing is minimal when politicians are limited to ‘election banter’ and is maximized when viewers learn something new about politics.