Journalism student ‘focus’ groups

Want to know what the next generation of journalists and their audiences think of news, newspapers, and the future of the industry? Then check at the Students’ Blog and, better still, engage with those who are writing it!

As a first step, we have created three “focus” groups of second and third-year journalism students at Charles Sturt University.  Over the coming weeks you can follow what they have to say about their atttiudes toward the media, debate it, and ask them to expand on anything that stirkes your interest. The first posting looks at “media in the dorm”… 

Media Consumption of Generation Y

With the media landscape changing so rapidly, the way people receive information has altered. Our generation, having grown up during this time of flux, is especially affected by these changes in communication. This much we know. So what media do our demographic, those between the ages of 18 and 25, consume? And more important than media consumption itself, we must consider why the media is consumed.

As a kick off point, our group of six Charles Sturt University journalism students documented what media we consumed in a five-day period. For future investigations we will expand our test group to include a greater variety of people, but for now, lets just look at our group. So why did our group consume the media we did?

Media accessed over a five day period:

Internet: 56%

Print: 19%

Broadcast: 25%


Top Five Media outlets accessed-Beginning with the most accessed:

1)     Facebook

2)     SMH Paper

3)     Sunrise

4)     Ninemsn News

5)     Seven News

 The Influences on our choices of media:


Environment must be considered when examining the media we accessed. As university students, most of us live on campus, an environment that obviously greatly differs from our home lives. Most commented that while at university they had the Internet in their bedrooms, while at home they didn’t. They also added that because of this they accessed sites such as facebook more often than they would at home. Living on campus is also a very social environment. With so many people of similar age and interest in one place, socialising increases so media consumption such as television watching and book reading decreases. Also, most commented that they watched more movies than at home because with so many people, there were more available.

Social/Peer Influence

Social and peer influences can also be seen to have a major impact on our media consumption. Facebook was the most accessed medium, a social networking page. For our generation Facebook is the new aged way to gossip: to check photos, to chat, to see what people are up to, to check relationship statuses. The prevalence of this site clearly indicates how communication has changed; the Internet is now the most common way to keep in contact. Social and peer influences had a greater affect on our media consumption, than just Facebook, however. Living in a dorm, things such as what television show to watch, or whether to even watch television, comes down to peer influence. Majority rules, if everyone wants to watch Home & Away on the common room television, there’s not much room to argue.


As journalism students, we are encouraged to access a wide range of media in order to grasp an understanding of what’s happening around the world.  Our motivation to read the paper each day is based on our need to pass our general news test in class. We believe that when we focus on a larger group of students across a range of courses, we will find that the print percentage will be less than the findings of this week. Searching through SMH online, government websites and union/organisation pages are a result of needing to complete an assignment. Harder news outlets would otherwise not have been considered on a daily basis.


Alcohol and food are the priorities of most University students and the thought of spending money to buy a paper isn’t even considered. Online news is easy, fast and efficient. There isn’t even a need for students to move due to Internet access in each room. Ninemsn was listed in our top five most accessed media due to its easy and colourful layout. The site appears after you log out of hotmail, allowing it to be viewed by millions of people each day. Gone are the days of searching for news, it is now delivered straight to our fingertips.

The thought of having a conversation at breakfast is basically unheard of at University due to the number of hung-over students each morning. The TV is in the common room and morning shows such as Sunrise are easy to follow and don’t require much concentration but at the same time provide enough information to keep the audience aware of current issues.

Ease of choice

We like to choose, to be in control and to decide when and where we access media. The Internet allows us to access the information or news that we want. We have so many choices on offer, which is great for consumers; however, it makes the job harder for media enterprises that are in a never-ending fight to enhance their consumer base.

In our common room we don’t have a remote so we are less likely to change the channels due to laziness, however in most family homes ‘channel surfing’ is as regular as breathing.  With a variety of shows on at any one time we get a vast array of choices.  The Internet has billions of different sites that can be visited with a simple click and newspapers are packed with varying angles and a range of pull out sections to attract different readers.


Media consumption in today’s society is endless; whether it is through print, online or broadcast. Ease of choice can impact in a positive and/or negative way. It allows us to acquire a number of viewpoints and different opinions from various sources. However, there is the danger of people becoming narrow minded if they choose to focus only on direct issues that interest them.


Thanks again for your time and let us hear from you about your observations on what we’ve reported here and what particular issues you’d like us to expand on.


Elyce Kolder

Natalie Howarth 

Caterina Fraga Matos

Erin Somerville

Stephanie Borys



Natalie Whiting


2 Responses to “Journalism student ‘focus’ groups”

  1. Dave Earley Says:

    Not disagreeing, just interested to know if Facebook was chosen as a media outlet or just a site visited (as top five media outlets).

    Saw what was written re: Facebook, so by gossip did you mean gossip/entertainment news was being seen through Facebook, or was hard(er) news also looked at?
    And how are students accessing that news through Facebook (news RSS apps/widgets, media outlet fan pages, wall posts, link recommendations from friends, etc)?

    In a wider survey of the 18-25 demographic that would be interesting, but also moving the question beyond just Facebook, to social networking in general and other specific sites people might use.

    Spelling mistakes:
    their atttiudes toward
    that stirkes your interest

  2. PANPA Students Says:

    Thanks for your comments. We have also taken note of your blog entry, found on the Earley edition. Firstly, we would like to clarify our chosen sample group. We specified that we intentionally limited our findings to the six in the group to establish who we are- our consumption as journalism students who will be writing this blog. As stated in our second paragraph:

    “As a kick off point, our group of six Charles Sturt University journalism students documented what media we consumed in a five-day period. For future investigations we will expand our test group to include a greater variety of people, but for now, lets just look at our group. So why did our group consume the media we did?”

    In response to your question, we do consider Facebook to be a media outlet. We believe that it represents a personalised news outlet. In the same way that SBS focuses on International news, Commercial channels take a national aspect, Facebook is our own news. For example, University events and issues are communicated via groups, emails and forums. This can be compared to the six o’clock news or radio updates when listeners/viewers are informed of road closures, events occurring in Sydney or birthday celebrations of a celebrity.

    The media trend is shifting away from traditional outlets. Facebook is indicative of this change. It gives insight into how younger generations prefer to access news; we want to be in control, we prefer to interact and we want to make decisions for ourselves, rather than be handed the news on a plate.

    Watch this space as we progress with our research and insights throughout the term.

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