Digital News Report Australia 2021: Young people not satisfied with how they are represented in news

Women and younger generations are less likely to see themselves or their views as being fairly or sufficiently reflected in the news, according to the Digital News Report (DNR): Australia 2021, released by the News and Media Research Centre (N&MRC) at the University of Canberra today.

The research team surveyed over 2,000 adult Australian news consumers and found that a quarter of Gen Z women (26 per cent) think they are under-represented in the news compared to 11 per cent of Gen Z men, which is higher than any other age group.

“There is a large gap between different generations in their perception of news coverage,” said lead author of the report Professor Sora Park.

“Gen Z is more likely to think there is not enough coverage of people their age (33 per cent) than other generations. Baby Boomers are the next most likely to say they are under-represented in the news (28 per cent).”

In addition to Gen Z respondents believing there is not enough coverage of their generation in the news, they are also the most likely to feel the news media represents their age group unfairly (41 per cent).

“These findings point to the importance of diversity in news coverage, not only in the topics covered, but also in the voices being heard,” said co-author Dr Caroline Fisher

“It supports a push for greater inclusion and diversity in news content and in the newsroom. These perceptions are also linked to assessments of trust in news.”

Other key findings include:

  • More than half of Gen Z use social media as their main source of news (54 per cent), compared to one in 10 among those aged 75 and over.
  • Younger generations are much more likely to rely on mobile phones to access news (Gen Z 63 per cent; Gen Y 68 per cent), whereas the majority of those aged 75 and over rely on computers (58 per cent).
  • Gen Z are most likely to rely on one medium for news but when it comes to news brands, they are most likely to use five or more news brands.
  • Gen Z are the lightest news consumers and have the lowest interest in news.
  • Compared to older generations, Gen Z has the lowest trust in news generally, but the highest trust in news found via search engines.
  • Younger generations are more likely to access news indirectly via social media and search engines whereas older generations are more likely to go directly to news websites or apps and receive news via email newsletters.
  • Under 35s are more likely to be interested in local news about things to do, jobs and education, whereas those aged 35 and over are more likely to access local news about weather, crime, and the economy.
  • Gen Z is least concerned about misinformation while they are more likely to encounter misinformation about COVID-19 than other generations. In contrast, those aged 75 and over are least likely to experience misinformation but most likely to be concerned about it.
  • Gen Y are more likely to be paying for news now as well as in the future.
  • Gen Y are the most concerned about the financial state of commercial news and also the most supportive of government intervention.

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