From TV to TikTok, how we get news is changing rapidly

You are now reading the news.

It may be in printed paper, but more than that, it's online, probably overcrowded on your smartphone screen. Maybe someone comes across a social media post that summarizes the words below, or hears it being talked about on local radio or television.

The news is consistent in that as long as humans and all their complexity exist, it will never stop. However, the ways we travel are changing rapidly, and this can affect everything from how stories are reported to how people feel about events.

A new survey on news habits by the Pew Research Center was released Wednesday It shows that nearly half of Americans sometimes get their news from social media, and far more people get it from digital devices than from television, radio or print.

The study, conducted between September 25 and October 1, found one dramatically increasing source of news: TikTok. Since 2020, the number of TikTok users who report getting news from the app has nearly doubled. A third of U.S. adults under 30 and 14 percent of all adults now get their news from the viral video app, though it still trails Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

“People make very conscious choices about which social media they go to, many times based on who they are,” Katerina Eva Matza, director of news and information research at the Pew Research Center, said in an interview.

He said the changes show people aren't just looking for facts when they're looking for news, but a sense of community. Although the consumption of print news, television and radio is declining, this does not mean that people are less informed. Matza said they are seeing evidence that more consumers are now exposed to news in general.

“I don't think the appetite for news has waned, and I think some of the situational events — particularly the war in Ukraine and the war in Gaza — seem to have engaged well with the younger generation of these consumers,” Bartosh said. Voidinsky, professor of new media at the University of Georgia's College of Journalism.

We asked people about their evolving news habits and how world events, mental health and misinformation are affecting them.

Traditional media, but only occasionally

When Americans want news, they're likely to pick up their phones. What they do when they're on them varies and intersects, links from social media to full stories and back again. According to Pew, news websites and apps are the most popular options, followed by search, then social media and podcasts.

Sheila Millon reads traditional news only four times a month. 23-year-old consultant from Los Angeles He will sit down at his computer or device and go deep into the main news outlets.

“It's hard for me to keep up with everything in a given news cycle, so I usually check on the weekend,” Milone said.

During the week, he digests news in bits and pieces through social media, mainly on Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter. He listens to NPR and Wall Street Journal podcasts on Spotify and reads daily newsletters from MorningBrew and ProPublica.

When the news he follows is particularly intense, Millon said he needs to rest and take a break, as he did recently after four days of reading about Gaza and Israel.

“I realize how privileged it is to sort, but it's really overwhelming and you feel powerless,” Milone said.

Loyal TV viewers

Television news, once an international and national news giant, has found favor with a younger demographic. Pew found that 41 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds get news from television at least occasionally, but 85 percent of those 65 and older do. Half of older adults say they prefer TV for news, a number that drops to 8 percent for those under 29.

Tony Adams has a consistent routine for getting news he can trust. Every night he turns on Fox News and watches between one and four hours, depending on what's happening in the country. If he's interested in sports news, he opens YouTube and types in the games or teams he follows. He listens to conservative news radio at work, local news only for the weather, and doesn't engage in social media at all.

“I trust Fox News, but not CNN news sources,” said Adams, 63, of Dayton, Ohio.

The length of the stories, combined with the sheer number of facts happening in the world at any given time, can be overwhelming for people who are already juggling a full-time job and personal life.

Christopher Bach, a 23-year-old apprentice electrician from Montebello, California, tries to make sure he knows enough about everything. Every morning he opens the site called Ground news and scans it for 30 minutes before it starts working. For each headline, the site aggregates articles for various sources and ranks their political leanings, assigning the coverage a “biased distribution” score.

“It shows me that there's a lot of important stuff going on right now, and there's not a lot of junk or filler,” Bach said. “That's why I don't watch the news because it's not the best way to get unbiased news, it's more entertaining.”

His other news source is a syndicated progressive podcast called “The David Pacman Show.” Bach is on social media and gets news from X, but doesn't find it useful for studying world events. His TikTok channel also lacks much news, offering an escape from the world with basketball, cooking and occasional comedy content.

Keeping the main news

Steve Love asks the most News to the end. The 54-year-old executive of a California science and technology company says he finishes 60 percent of the articles he writes, but has gotten more comfortable revising them over the years.

“Informative articles as a whole are just kind of Peter,” he said.

He pays for a subscription to the New York Times and uses morning newsletters from Axios and the Times to familiarize him with the basics. Because of work, he tries to keep up with business news.

Over the years, he has had to cut back on how much news he consumes for his mental health.

“The world is depressing,” Love said. “At the end of Trump's term, I stopped reading as many articles and just skimmed before the article or just read the summary in the morning.”

His use of X has dwindled and he hasn't touched Facebook since 2016, but checks Instagram a few times a week, where he finds politics and conspiracy theorists easier to avoid. Lately, she's been getting the information she missed from her young children, who are discovering their own passions for news and activism.

Notifications and social media will bring you news

“For me, it's always been social media in some form. I was never part of the generation that remembers TV news,” said Fanny Chung, a Gen Z who works in biotech in San Francisco.

People of all ages now turn to social media, with at least half of Americans getting their news from sites and apps. Facebook is the most popular source, with 30 percent of adults regularly getting news, followed by YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and X, according to Pew.

Consuming news on social media does not necessarily mean that people are looking for articles on traditional news sites. According to Chartbeat, an analytics company that tracks traffic to news and media sites around the world, traffic from Facebook to news sites has declined over the past year. Meanwhile, Google Search traffic has grown and continues to be the main referent of readers for major media sites.

Cheung's way to news is alerts from the iPhone's built-in news app. He'll receive alerts for articles from The Washington Post, The Times, CNN, and others, and decide if he wants to click through and read the entire articles.

Over the past few weeks, the Israel-Gaza war has taken over his social media channels, and now he estimates that nearly 25 percent of his TikTok algorithm is updated about the war. Following the news drives him to take action, including calling his representatives and signing petitions, but he requires a break from more graphic content from various sources.

“I'm not tired of watching it, but it's like I've done what I can at this point. I don't know what it would do to see more.”

Even when it's on social media, the news itself can often be traced back to traditional sources, Wojdinski said, or the posts themselves are news.

“The person they're consuming video from is often not a traditional reporter. “Where that person gets information can be a mix and include traditional sources, first person on the scene, sources that are questioned on social media after someone posts a video that shows the annotation,” Wojdinski said. “They are likely to be on the scene in Gaza or somewhere else where the coverage is taking place.”.”