Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Media Studies


Dr. Jacquelyn Burkell


In the last two decades, the adoption of online and mobile news applications has drastically altered the practice of news consumption. Young news consumers, the first generation of digital natives, have seemingly unlimited options in news sources, styles, modalities, and stories; but with so many choices, it is unclear how these young people make decisions about what news to consume. It is also unclear how these consumers are coming to believe the news when it is being disseminated from so many platforms and sources. This study seeks to fill a gap in scholarship by exploring how young Canadians are making decisions about what news to consume and what news to believe. Through a series of focus groups, interviews, and diaries, the participants in this study report that they use factors like interest, source, and experience to decide if they will read or follow a story. Participants also identified reasons that they believe the news including factors like source, completeness, corroboration, quality, and personal logic (if it sounds or “feels” true). However, these study participants indicated that they use these factors in subjective sophisticated strategies based on learned methods, news beat, and experience to make further decisions about the news. This study resolves that though many young people identify social media as a “source” of news, it acts more as a gateway to mainstream news that is considered more trustworthy and believable.