by Aaron Earls
A Baby Boomer pastor may be getting the majority of their political news from NBC or FOX, but the Millennial in the pew is probably gathering information from Google or friends on Facebook.
According to the latest research from Pew, significant differences exist among the news source preferences for each generation.
When asked whether they got political or government news in the past week from a list of 42 news sources, including local TV and five social media sites, more than 6-in-10 Millennials (61 percent) say Facebook is one of their sources—17 points higher than the second most frequently named source, CNN.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of Baby Boomers say they saw some political news on local TV. Almost half (47 percent) chose NBC News and FOX News.
Generation X continued to be a mix of the two generations on either side—51 percent listed Facebook as a news source and 46 percent chose local TV.
Millennials were also twice as likely to say they got political news from Google News (33 percent compared to 18 percent for Gen Xers and 15 percent for Baby Boomers).
When asked separately to name their main source for political news, CNN tops the lists for Millennials and Gen Xers, while FOX News leads among Baby Boomers.
Millennials were the only ones to list Internet sources among their top five choices. Google News and Yahoo News both were chosen as the main source for news about the government and politics by 7 percent.
Generation X has an unmatched affinity for radio. NPR and local radio were chosen by 7 and 6 percent of Gen Xers respectively.
And Boomers still like their morning paper, as 7 percent said a local newspaper was their main choice for political news.
What This Means for Church Leaders
These varying news sources with often contradictory perspectives can lead to issues within the church.
When one person is listening mostly to political pundits on TV and the other only reads stories shared on social media by college friends, confusion may be difficult to avoid.
Church leaders should be aware of these tendencies and work to speak to the entire congregation by avoiding references to specific news sources.
They could also seek to diversify their news intake to be better able to effectively communicate with different individuals from different generations.
Political news preferences do not have to divide congregations. Pastors need to be aware these generational tendencies exist, however, so they can best serve everyone in the church.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.