News publishers must innovate to meet shifting Gen Z needs

Traditional news outlets seeking to engage younger audiences must embrace innovation or risk declining relevance, according to new research published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

The report – ‘What does news media mean to Gen Z?’ – was conducted by Rebecca Roberts, founder of Thread & Fable, and funded under the Institute’s Research Fund. It investigates the media habits of Gen Z in the UK and how the rise of digital formats has changed how younger generations view, trust, and interact with news compared to older groups, painting both challenges and opportunities for publishers.

Through a literature review and exclusive interviews as well as fresh survey insight from a youth audience, the report finds that outlets not evolving fast enough are losing out to social media personalities and influencers who better understand the on-demand, interactive, visual preferences of younger audiences. The report notes that participation in news across younger audiences is more passive and that the 24/7 relationship with unfiltered, social media content is failing to capture limited attention spans while reducing trust in traditional news outlets. However, where news outlets are consulting their audiences, exploring new technology, and building unique communities around news content, there are opportunities for publishers to build connections with a younger demographic.


It’s great to be sharing my CIPR-funded research report ‘What does news media mean to Gen Z: an investigation into the news habits of Gen Z in the UK’ today.

I’ve been passionate about improving how we engage youth audiences throughout my career but feel there are still many unhelpful stereotypes about younger generations that prove unhelpful in our industry. The CIPR research fund has enabled me to take a deep dive into research on how Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) are accessing and shaping news media, speak to a number of industry figures as well as undertake some direct youth insight, in order to produce this research report.

I hope it helps to inform others about some of the changes news media faces and some of the underlying patterns of consumption and relationship with news content that will only become more prevalent over the next few years.
Rebecca Roberts, report author and founder of Thread & Fable

  • The CIPR Research Fund is now in its fourth successive year. The Fund awards grants of up to £2000 to CIPR members at any stage of their career to conduct independent PR research to support the development and advancement of the wider profession, in line with the Institute’s Royal Charter and five-year strategy. Applications are decided by members of the CIPR’s Research Fund Panel. Find out more.

Download our most recent published research including:

  • From Muckraking to Metaverse: 100 years of public relations education – learning for India
  • Fish out of water: the experience of PR practitioners from lower socio-economic backgrounds, why it matters and what we can do about it

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.