Social media is the go-to news source for millennials and Gen Z, but that doesn’t mean they trust it

DKC took a scientific random sampling of 2,300 Gen Zers and millennials and looked at topics including race, pop culture, politics, sports and health.

Younger audiences are distrustful of information they receive on social media. (Photo credit: Getty Images).
Younger audiences are distrustful of information they receive on social media. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

NEW YORK: News consumption habits don't just drastically vary across generations, they vary by race, too, according to agency research.

PR firm DKC took a scientific random sampling of 2,300 Gen Zers and millennials and looked at topics including race, pop culture, politics, sports and health.

DKC found that a large majority of both groups – 91% of Gen Z and 84% of millennials – don't trust at least one major type of media outlet. They are especially distrustful of news they read on social media, even though this is often their primary source of news.

Forty-eight percent of Gen Z respondents called social media their "go-to" option for news, but 54% also said that they generally do not trust it. This distrust was true of 54% of millennials, and 50% of Black audiences. The latter two groups relied more heavily on online news sources rather than social media for their news.

The top stories of 2021 were defined differently by Black and white audiences. Twenty-eight percent of Black respondents deemed the George Floyd case and verdict the top story of the year, followed by the vaccine mandate (20%). These percentages differed when looking at data across the board, with 25% of respondents naming vaccine mandates the most important story of the year, and 14% pointing to George Floyd's murder and the following case.

Climate change is the topic that Black Millennials and Gen Z are most eager to learn about, chosen by 19% of respondents. The general audience was least interested in the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle story (24%), and Britney Spears' conservatorship was least important to Black audiences (23%).

The survey also posed questions about misinformation. Twenty percent of respondents across the board ranked the vaccine mandate as the story most likely to be subject to misinformation. Gen Z audiences, however, ranked the Floyd story first. Eleven percent of audiences thought that the January 6 Capitol riot was likely to be misrepresented, while 9% said the same of abortion rights.

The survey results shed a light on the need for PR and communications professionals to think carefully about how and where their audiences get their news and what sources they most trust. This is particularly important when looking specifically at Black audiences, who consistently answered more negatively about how fairly the media approached stories.

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