08.24.2017
Press

Presidential fatigue hits Gen Z users, shows Oath’s news data

By Tenni Theurer (Sr Director Product Management at Yahoo) and Miao Chen (Director of Yahoo Research)

 

The common assumption is that anyone engaged in current events today is focused on U.S. politics, but the data shows that it actually depends on your generation. Gen Z is focused on a diverse array of issues and are largely isolated from the obsessive focus on national politics seen in other generations. Since they are the next generation to come online as voters (beginning in 2018 for the oldest Gen Zers), should we be concerned for the next election?

 

Oath News data on longitudinal trends across Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z show that while the November 8th presidential election drew people from all age groups on presidential topics, trends for Gen X and Millennial are also similar. Gen Z has the most diverse interest over time and was the only group with significant discussion in international politics and society related stories.

 

The US elections, Brexit, France's landmark presidential election, and the unfortunate terrorist attacks over the past year prompted us to dig deeper into our news platform, to see how these events may have impacted our communities. This analysis was conducted through a review of over 100 million comments, of which 3 million were analyzed to define the top 10 trending US hosted articles per month ranked by total comments.

 

Included in this analysis were comments generated within the flagship mobile app Newsroom iOS and Android, and across our biggest news platforms Yahoo.com and Yahoo News. In future series, we will expand our research to the HuffPost audience, and more.

 

This is the first in a series of data analysis conducted to learn more about what users are talking about across oath's News channel of powerful brands including HuffPost, Yahoo, and AOL. It turns out that behind the curtains of our news platform lies an active and engaged audience, and we'd like to learn more by gleaning insights from the data.

Hottest Topics and The Election Exception

In July 2016, Donald Trump becomes the presidential nomination from the Republican Party and Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party's nomination. From August 2016 through July 2017, we categorized the most popular stories (as defined by stories with the most comments this past year) as Presidential at 74%, Other Politics at 17%, Crime at 4%, Terrorism at 3%, Society at 2%, and Disaster at 1%.

 

Oath News data shows that time and events play a major factor in the community discussion, where the election period drew users from all gender and age groups on presidential topics. The discussion on presidential topics steadily declines from January through May 2017, and increases again in June and July.

 

Examples of Events that Appear in the Top 10 Most Popular Stories (Aug 2016 - July 2017)

 

Month

Trending Stories

Aug-16

Green Party National Convention, Black Lives Matter first agenda released, Italy earthquake

Sep-16

First presidential debate, Tulsa police shooting, NY-NJ bombing

Oct-16

Presidential and VP debates, Comey-Hillary emails, Teen girls in NY arrested

Nov-16

US Election Day, Trump protests

Dec-16

Electors of Electoral College cast vote, Russia sanctions, Trump's tech summit

Jan-17

Presidential inauguration, Women's March, ACLU wins legal challenge, Meryl Streep Golden Globes, Trump issues travel ban order, Mike Pence health care

Feb-17

Michael Flynn resigns, Federal judge temporarily halts travel ban, Elizabeth Warren reads letter criticizing Jeff Sessions

Mar-17

Trump claims Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, House scraps health care vote, Reports surface Sessions met with Russia ambassador, California Trump rallies, Teens killed in Oklahoma burglary

Apr-17

Tax March protest, Supreme Court filibuster, US drops 'mother of all bombs', First female Muslim judge found dead, United passenger

May-17

FBI Director James Comey fired, Demonstration at Lee Park over Confederate statue, Notre Dame walk out, House passes bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Manchester Arena terrorist attack

Jun-17

Kathy Griffin Press Conference, Paris Agreement withdrawal, Ramadan Dinner, Comey testimony, Georgia House race, GOP Baseball Gunman, London Bridge Terrorist Attack

Jul-17

Trump and Putin's first meeting, Trump announces US military ban on transgender, G20 Hamburg summit, Sean Spicer resigns

Source: Oath News Analytics

 

Examples of Article Headlines within Topic Categories

Presidential: "Trump: U.S. military won't allow transgender people 'to serve in any capacity'"

Other Politics: "Republican Karen Handel wins Georgia House race, beating back liberal wave"

 

Crime: "Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer charged in man's death"

 

Terrorism: "Police respond 2 'terrorist incidents' at London Bridge, Borough Market 7 killed, 3 suspects dead after 'brutal terrorist attack' at London Bridge, Borough Market"

Society: "Teen Girls Arrested After Video of Assault on Man, 62, Appears on Facebook"

Disaster: "Flash flood kills 8 at Arizona swimming hole"

 

Generational Differences

Cohort analysis is a useful method to look for patterns by grouping data using a point in time and a characteristic of users. We sliced the data into five distinct groups:

 

  1. Generation Z (birth year 2001 - now)
  2. Millennial (birth year 1981 - 2000)
  3. Generation X (birth year 1961 - 1980)
  4. Baby Boomer (birth year 1941 - 1960)
  5. Elder (birth year <= 1940)

 

While Gen X is reading stories about Presidential news, Gen Z and Millennials are more inclined to read stories involving other politics (i.e. international conflict), crime, disaster and societal news. Notice the generational similarities among Elder and Baby Boomer, versus Gen X and Millennial. Gen Z is clearly unique and shows the highest diversity in topics discussed - less than 50% of are presidential, substituted with an increase in crime, society, and terrorism news topics. Discussions in presidential topics also decreases in each successive generation whereas discussions in crime and society topics increases.

 

 

Gender Divide?

Our data indicates there isn't a divide. Figure 4 shows that gender is a not a significant factor of topic differences. Both genders actively engage in discussions mostly on presidential topics. Men comment slightly more on other political and crime topics, while women comment slightly more on presidential and social topics.

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • The most popular stories (as defined by stories with the most comments this past year) are Presidential at 74%, Other Politics at 17%, Crime at 4%, Terrorism at 3%, Society at 2%, and Disaster at 1%.
  • While Gen X is reading stories about Presidential news, Gen Z and Millennials are more inclined to read stories involving other politics (i.e. international conflict), crime, and societal news.
  • Younger users have more diverse interests when it comes to commenting, with Gen Z as the only group with less than 50% of top articles categorized as Presidential.
  • The election period (Oct. - Dec. 2016) drew users from all gender and age groups on presidential topics.
  • The most popular topics are consistent among men and women. Men comment slightly more on other political and crime topics, while women comment slightly more on presidential and social topics.



Contributing Authors and Collaborators: Mounia Lalmas, Don Matheson, Lola Mao, Niru Appikatala, Yan He, and Troy Chevalier

 

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