Teens Tune In to News on the Internet

National TV web sites among the most trusted and most visited by teens; blogs among the least

MIAMI – When it comes to using the Internet, high school students not only pay attention to the news, they like traditional news sources more than most might think. 

A majority of high school students say they’re plugged into the news on the Internet at least weekly, and they are getting most of their news from Internet portals and mainstream media web sites – not from blogs, according to a new survey of 15,000 high school students by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. 

“The digital revolution is increasing, not decreasing, the connection between American teens and news,” said Eric Newton, director of Knight Foundation’s Journalism Initiatives.

Students who go online get most of their news from the news pages of Internet portals like Google and Yahoo!, followed by national TV news sites, and local TV and daily newspaper web sites. Blogs came in fourth place, according to the survey, part of Knight Foundation’s 2006 Future of the First Amendment study.

A majority of high school students find TV, followed by newspapers, to be the most accurate news sources. They don’t trust the accuracy of blogs, according to the survey.

But despite their reliance on traditional news sources, nearly half of high school students say they also get news and information from entertainment programs like The Daily Show and others at least once a week.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 66 percent of high school students get their news and information from the news pages of Internet portals such as Google and Yahoo!, 45 percent from national TV news web sites, 34 percent from local TV or newspaper web sites, 32 percent from blogs and 21 percent from national newspaper sites.
  • 45 percent of high school students say TV provides the most accurate news; 23 percent say newspapers, and 10 percent say blogs.
  • 46 percent of students get news and information at least once a week from entertainment shows such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and South Park.
  • 31 percent of high school students post comments on blogs or online columns at least once a week.
  • Only 10 percent of teens say they are not at all interested in the news, mostly because they feel it isn’t presented in an interesting way.
  • Nine of 10 teens are wired to the Internet through school and eight in 10 through the home.

“When teens say they follow ‘news,’ sometimes they are talking about The Daily Show, but more often than that they’re talking about the news pages of Google and Yahoo! – and they may even be talking about CNN.com or MSNBC.com,” Newton said.

This 2006 survey is the second part of an update to Knight Foundation’s 2004 study, which questioned more than 100,000 students and 8,000 teachers – the largest survey of its kind – about their attitudes and knowledge of the First Amendment. Dr. David Yalof and Dr. Kenneth Dautrich conducted the research for both surveys. 

Earlier this week, Knight Foundation released the first part of the update, discovering that  U.S. high school students know a bit more about the First Amendment than they did two years ago because schools are offering more classes that teach about this fundamental law.

For the full findings of both parts of the 2006 survey, visit www.firstamendmentfuture.org.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers.

Since its creation in 1950, the foundation has invested nearly $300 million to advance journalism quality and freedom of expression. For more, visit www.knightfdn.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.