Incidental News: How Young People Consume News on Social Media

This paper examines the dynamics of news consumption on social media through sixteen open-ended interviews with young users from Argentina. It adopts a texto-material perspective to explore the role of technology and users’ motivations, actions and interpretations. The interviews reveal that the ideal-typical mode in which young users consume news on social media can be characterized with the notion of “incidental news”: most young users get the news on their mobile devices as part of their constant connection to media platforms; they encounter the news all the time, rather than looking for it; but click on them only sporadically and spend little time engaging with the content. Thus, the news becomes un-differentiated from the rest of the social and entertainment information. This mode of news access marks a significant discontinuity with the consumption of news on other media. It also raises major editorial and political implications.