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Extra, extra! More Canadians than ever don’t even follow the news

What does it say when an increasing number of Canadians don't even follow the news?

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They say democracy relies on an informed citizenry.

So what does it say when an increasing number of Canadians don’t even follow the news?

New data released by Statistics Canada shines a light on changing patterns in how Canadians follow the news and current affairs – and maybe the biggest change is a growing number aren’t paying any attention to the news.

According to Statscan, the number of Canadians who follow the news on a daily basis dropped from 68% in 2003 to 60% in 2013.

Meanwhile, over the last decade, the number of Canadians who “rarely or never” follow the news nearly doubled from 7% in 2003 to 13% in 2013.

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On average, older Canadians are more likely than younger Canadians to follow the news closely.

StatsCan points out that although “people with a higher level of education are more inclined to follow news and current affairs regularly,” older Canadians were more likely to follow the news “regardless of their level of education.”

“Among people aged 55 and older with less than a high school diploma, 79% followed news and current affairs daily,” StatsCan reports. “In comparison, 60% of university graduates aged 25 to 54 followed news and current affairs daily.”

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Yet the number of Canadians who say they don’t follow the news increased in every age group.

The number of Canadians age 18-34 who never or rarely follow the news nearly doubled from 11% to 21% between 2003 and 2013, while those who follow the news daily dropped from 48% to 37%.

Among those aged 35-54, the number who don’t follow the news also doubled from 6% to 12% and it increased ever so slightly by one-third (2%) among those aged 55 and over.

Those who follow the news daily decreased from 73% to 60% among those aged 35-54 and down 88% to 81% among those aged 55+.

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Another factor to think about is the changing media landscape.

After recent announcements of layoffs and newspaper closures, it may not surprise anyone to learn that the number of Canadians who get their news from a newspaper dropped from 69% in 2003 to 51% in 2013.

But TV news also saw a decline from 90% to 78%, while magazines saw a decline of 4% and radio saw a decline of 2%.

The only type of media that saw an increase was the internet – the number of Canadians who say they follow news online increased from 30% in 2003 to 59% in 2013.

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Canadians 55 and over were most likely to get their news from their TV (89%) while those aged 34 and under were most likely to get their news online (77%).

On the other hand, with so many different ways to get news available at our fingertips, it’s not as if anyone’s lacking in options these days.

So what’s the real reason fewer and fewer Canadians seem to be engaged with the news?

StatsCan doesn’t have much to say about that, but pointing to age or the changing media landscape might be too simplistic an answer on its own.

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PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

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