Have you seen the news?

Challenging stereotypes and bias on news consumption

Why is it important to eliminate stereotypes and bias about media consumption? Heather Dansie, Insight Director at Newsworks explores what they've been doing to challenge any assumptions and generalisations about how people consume their news.

Media planning and buying is rife with stereotypes and bias. Time poverty and an ever-growing number of channels and brands to juggle mean that we have all fallen into the trap of crude assumptions and generalisations. And established media that is the bread and butter of advertising, can get underplayed and overshadowed in the modern world.

Newsworks, the marketing body for the UK’s national news brands, looks to challenge many of the stereotypes faced by news publishers today, whether it be myths that news brands are just newspapers (print now sits alongside a plethora of news brand platforms from podcasts, to social and video) or that news brand represent only ‘hard news’. To the contrary, sport, fashion, relationship, and entertainment news are a huge part of a news brand’s journalistic output. And what about the stereotypes of readers that sit behind each news brand? The reality is that they are far more diverse than their cartoon representations would have you think.

Do Gen Z read the news?

One challenge we’ve recognised in recent years is the assumption that young people aren’t interested in the news. This intuitively felt wrong to us, so we worked with the agency Colourtext to analyse a vast passive data set collected by Ipsos. We took every single click 1000 young people aged 15-29 made on their phones and laptops over the course of a month. In the same way that the IPA Touchpoints diary helps planners get much closer to real behaviour that can be difficult for respondents to express, this passive click data can challenge assumptions. Arguably nothing reveals what we care about - our fears, our worries, or our ideas - than the clicks we make on our phones. And our results were eye-opening.

At Media360, we shared our top-line results. Our research is still ongoing and we will be sharing all the whys and wherefores behind the data at an event later this year. But we were delighted to find that rather than shying away from news, nine in 10 (86%) were reading news. Seven in 10 (72%) were reading news brand content. And on average, they are checking news brands four times a day.

Journalism matters

But more importantly perhaps than any of the reach figures is the fact that young people care about the state of journalism in our country today. In a follow-up survey, we found that three-quarters (74%) believe in the importance of journalism for society today. And 29% use news brands to discover new products and services they have never heard of before.

Our study aims to look at a reassessment of the role and purpose of news journalism for young people. It is new, it is nuanced, and it isn’t the same way that their grandparents read the news, but it is certainly engaged.

And it is important because news shapes the world. And it will shape the way young people approach the world and what they choose to value in it.

To hear first about the Newsworks research launch event, contact Heather or sign up to the Newsworks Newsletter to keep up to date with all their events. 


Heather will also present a Newsworks Case Study at the IPA TouchPoints 2024 Data Launch in July. Find out more and secure your space.


The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and were submitted in accordance with the IPA terms and conditions regarding the uploading and contribution of content to the IPA newsletters, IPA website, or other IPA media, and should not be interpreted as representing the opinion of the IPA.

Last updated 31 May 2024