The next generation is trusting their news-gathering and fact-checking to TikTok and Instagram personalities rather than mainstream media and journalists, according to a report.
A study conducted for the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, part of Britain’s University of Oxford, found 55% of TikTok users and 52% of Instagram users get their news from ‘personalities’ on the respective platforms.
The figure of those who get their news from mainstream media and journalists on those same platforms falls to just 33% on TikTok and 42% on Instagram, per the 2023 Digital News Report.
Nic Newman, a senior research associate at the Reuters Institute, wrote in the report: ‘Perhaps the most striking findings in this year’s report relate to the changing nature of social media, partly characterized by declining engagement with traditional networks such as Facebook and the rise of TikTok and a range of other video-led networks.’
According to Newman, young people are now, more than ever, more influenced by ‘influencers’ on the platform for trends, advice and now even news.
‘Our data show, more clearly than ever, how this shift is strongly influenced by habits of the youngest generations, who have grown up with social media and nowadays often pay more attention to influencers or celebrities than they do to journalists, even when it comes to news,’ he wrote.
This trend did not reflect on older platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where those who access those platforms chose to follow mainstream news outlets over personalities for their news, 43-38 and 55-42, respectively.
TikTok also uniquely stood out among the list of social media platforms, including YouTube and Snapchat, as more users (44%) are trusting ‘ordinary people’ for getting their news. No other platform was above 37%.
The 2023 Reuters Institute Digital News Report also found more young people are choosing social media to serve them the news over directly accessing news websites or apps.
In 2018, nearly 1-in-3 young people (32%) chose mainstream media websites or apps to receive their news online. This figure has fallen to just over 1-in-5 (22%) in 2023.
Conversely, the number of young people choosing social media to get their news in 2018 was 23%, jumping to 30% this year.
For comparison, most adults over 35 years old (52%) chose to access online news by going directly to a news website or app. Only 24% of people ages 18-24 did the same.
The report concluded that young people have grown increasingly critical of the news media, which is widely driven by politicians and others.
Reuters Institute director Rasmus Kleis Nielsen said in a forward that these shifts present ‘a much more fundamental change’ for broadcast news and digital platforms.