Media Consumption in College Education

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Media Consumption Habits of Students

College students spend a lot more time online than any previous generation. They engage with a variety of media sources, including news, social media, music and video. Most college students report checking the news frequently. Social media is an incredibly popular source of news among college-age students, but traditional multimedia news networks and online news sites remain very popular as well; CNN ranks as the top news site according to multiple sources. Non-traditional news sources such as Vice and The Young Turks occupy a much smaller share of total college-age users, but are still very popular. Below we discuss precise statistics and details, along with the methodology we used to compile the data.

METHODOLOGY

Data on the media consumption habits of college students were not always readily available, this may be due to the effort it would take for stakeholders to first compile that information and then disseminate it to the public. The effort to compile it would be great enough to warrant the information as highly proprietary and less likely to be released to the public. When data were not available, we defined "college students" as people within the 18-34 range, or "millennials", since the majority of college students are within this range. Occasionally data was separated into sub-groups which roughly correspond to undergraduates and graduates; for example, the 18-24 range more frequently applies to high school seniors or undergraduates, while the 25-34 range more frequently corresponds to graduates.

GENERAL MEDIA CONSUMPTION HABITS

Millennials, the primary "student" demographic, are more likely to use social media than any previous age group. The most popular networks are Facebook, used by 86%, followed by Youtube at 71%. Between 40-60% of people in this age range use Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Millennials typically spend about 8 hours per day online. Men use Youtube at higher rates than women do, while women use Facebook and Pinterest at higher rates than men.

Millennials watch less TV than previous generations do. According to a survey by digital insights group Toluna, only 29% of respondents in this age bracket reported watching more than 3 hours of television a day. When they do watch TV, 61% said Netflix was their preferred content provider, while 55% preferred cable providers.

As their television consumption goes down, millennials instead listen to more music than previous generations. For example, 23% of respondents to the Toluna survey reported listening to more than 3 hours of music per day, with 17% of millennials preferring Spotify and 21% preferring iTunes.

PREFERRED NEWS SOURCES

The internet is by far the most popular way for college-age students to get their news. In a survey conducted by Reuters, 64% of respondents aged 18-24 consumed their news online, while 58% of those aged 25-34 did the same. On the other hand, only 4% of those aged 18-24 obtained their news from radio, 5% obtained it from print, and 24% obtained it from television. Those aged 25-34 showed similar results, with 5% consuming radio news, 5% consuming print news and 29% consuming news from television.

An estimated 95% of the total 75 million millennial internet-users check the news at least once a month. In a study by the American Press Institute, people in the college-age demographic are more likely to integrate news-reading into their daily routines; 39% said they sought new reports out actively, whereas 60% said they encountered them naturally as part of their activities. Millennials typically follow about 10 different news topics, which they consume largely through clicking on social media links. The survey found that 88% get news through Facebook at least sometimes, while 83% find news through Youtube and 50% via Instagram. Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and Tumblr were also popular sources for news articles and information. According to the University Network, however, despite this high level of popularity for social media news, network news still dominates. College students consume 36% of their news from multimedia networks, while almost 20% comes from national press and almost 18% comes from social media sites. The disparity between these findings could be due to the fact that there is overlap between social media news and other news networks; for example, much of the news posted on social media sites consists of linked articles and videos.

The top three news networks with the highest reach among the college-age demographic are CNN (at 70%), Yahoo-ABC(at 63%), and Buzzfeed(at 60%). USA Today, NBC, Huffington Post, The New York Times and CBS are also in the top ten. Other sites that are normally associated with millennials, such as Vice, Mic, and Vox, are also very popular; the majority of their users are in the 18-34 age range, but since they are also classified as "entertainment" or "lifestyle" sites, their rankings in "news" categories tend to be a little lower. Vice reaches almost 23% of the college-age demographic. Meanwhile, 60% of visitors to both Buzzfeed and Mic are millennials.

Other sites that are popular with college students, but consume a much smaller percentage of the total user demographic, include NPR (2%), ESPN (1%), John Oliver (almost 1%), Apple News (almost 1%), Aljazeera (almost 0.5%), The Daily Beast (almost 0.5%), and The Young Turks (almost 0.5%).

SUMMARY

According to a number of studies, college-age millennials tend to be highly engaged with news. Some will seek it out actively but most come into contact with news articles and information naturally as part of their online routines. College-age students will follow a variety of news topics and use almost every social media platform to do so; however, multimedia news networks and online news sites continue to occupy the top places when it comes to the percentage of users they reach.
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Media Consumption Habits of College Educators

Exhaustive research of the public domain indicates that there is a consistent lack of research or analyses of the media consumption habits, or indeed any habits, of college-level educators in the US. The one source I found addressing educator interaction with media is specific to social media use in education, and makes only brief mention of educator social media use for personal purposes. The most applicable information is the fairly large body of research available on US media consumption, which is segmented by age, gender and level of education. Confined as we are to the high-level demographic segmentation which is publicly available, we can triangulate college educator preferences based on the demographic profiles which describe the group. If we assume that college educators follow the general trends of their age/gender/education cohort, then we can say that the vast majority consume at least some news via TV and some via social media; and of those who prefer to read their news, a slim majority prefers to read it online rather than via traditional print publications. Below you'll find my research methodology and the most relevant findings.

METHODOLOGY

I began by researching for preexisting surveys or analyses specific to college educators. This strategy indicated that the media consumption habits specific to this group have not been published in the public domain, as there were neither surveys nor any media reference to surveys or analyses. This segment of the population does not appear to be a significant niche for market research. While there are numerous research studies available on US media consumption habits, these studies segment by basic demographic metrics such as age and gender, or by device used. There were no such studies available segmented by profession. Surveys of how Americans consume their news and media is similarly available, and has similar limitations (ex: here). These types of market research analysis are consistently limited to the high-level demographic categories noted above. Except for social media segmentation (Facebook, Twitter, etc), there was no granular data specific to individual media publications. Based on the lack of specific information available in the public domain, it appears that a more nuanced analysis of college educator habits would require primary market research.

COLLEGE EDUCATOR COHORTS

Research indicates that 37 is the average age for obtaining the credentials necessary to enter the academic profession as an associate professor. Males hold a slight majority among full-time college-level faculty, and the overwhelming majority of faculty are white, independent of gender. We can therefore posit that the profile of the average full-time college educator is a white male or white female over the age of 37.

However, we must also take into account that, as of 2015, part-time college educators comprised significantly more than half of college educators; and my research found no similar statistical data available for part-time educators. Although the majority of college educators are under 65 in age, there is a significant segment of college educators who exceed that age. For this reason, we have included relevant data on all age groups over 37.

NEWS CONSUMPTION CHANNELS

Consuming news via TV increases significantly with the older cohorts. Depending on their specific age group, a person over the age of 37 is likely to fall into the 45-85% of US adults aged 30+ who consume their news via TV. They are less likely to fall into the approximately 27% of adults over 30 who receive their news via radio, and the 10-48% who read print publications. Independent of age, research indicates that TV consumption habits have remained relatively stable over the past few years.

SOCIAL MEDIA USE & CONSUMPTION

79% of college educated adults use Facebook, 50% use LinkedIn, and 29% use Twitter. Facebook outpaces all other social media sites for consumption of news across all age cohorts, although "Twitter and LinkedIn have the largest share of college graduates among their news users." The majority of all age cohorts report getting at least some of their news from social media, as do the majority of white and college-educated respondents. From this, we can reasonably assume that college educators get at least some of their news from social media.

A 2013 research study on social media in higher level education found parity between college professors' use of social media and that of the general population: 'over 70 percent used social media in their personal lives."

CONCLUSION

To wrap it up: the media consumption habits of US college educators cannot be reported or derived due to lack of specific data in the public domain. However, the available cohort data suggests that the majority of college educators consume news and information via TV and social media, especially Facebook and LinkedIn.
Sources
Sources