Why news orgs fail to reach young people:

“General news is not relevant to young people because they don’t have context. It’s a lot of abstract storytelling and arguing among adults that makes no sense. So most young people end up consuming celebrity news. To top it off, news agencies, for obvious reasons, are trying to limit access to their content by making you pay for it. Well, guess what: Young people aren’t going out of their way to try to find this news, so you put up one little wall, and poof, done. They’re not even going to bother.

… When I hear news agencies talk about wanting to get young people, they don’t want to figure out how to actually inform them — they want to hear how to monetize them. And that pisses me off.”

Microsoft researcher and youth-culture expert Danah Boyd

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  • http://twitter.com/rosscwilliams rosscwilliams

    Identifying yourself as one while providing interesting information  or commentary that helps a reporter tell a story that will  attract an audience. 

  • http://twitter.com/rosscwilliams rosscwilliams

    In terms of gathering news, the internet provides numerous ways to become aware of events that didn’t exist. It provides easy access to background and sources that used to require difficult and costly research or required special knowledge and expertise. “A reporter is only as good as their sources” and sources are much more widely available and easier to find and contact. In fact, most are available to anyone.

    In terms of reporting the news, there are multiple tools that make it easier. Computer applications, like word processors, spreadsheets and databases,  have taken a lot of the work out of compiling information into an accessible form for consumers. Editing and fact checking have become much easier. And the ability to link to primary sources allows much more in-depth coverage of a topic. The ability to comment allows a wide variety of people to contribute their knowledge and expertise, well beyond what was possible before the internet. 

    Many public meetings are accessible online without someone even having to attend them. There are numerous ways for people with an interest in the meeting to provide commentary that is accessible without attending the meeting. Its possible to access people who attended a meeting without actually being present.

    Perhaps most importantly, it is now relatively cheap for news sources of all kinds to send out information that is directly accessible to the public via the internet. They don’t need someone to rework it into a story for some other media. Is this the same as a story filtered through the media? No. It places the burden on the consumer to evaluate the information and fill out the story. But that was always true. In fact, is often easier for the consumer to know the source of the information without the media filter.

    A simple example is  the stuff of listening in on police calls or hanging around the police station to report on local crimes is long over. Police now can issue timely online reports and provide a list of arrests that are available to anyone with a computer. Which is virtually everyone.

    We are in a transition of course. Many news sources still rely on the media to distribute their information and many individuals still get their news from old-fashioned media. But “young people” are way ahead of that curve. As they become an increasingly important part of the potential audience, news sources will adapt to making the information they have directly accessible. 

  • Jack Burke

     Can you explain how the cost of gathering and reporting news has declined? For example, how has the cost of gathering and reporting news from a common council meeting or a court case declined?

  • http://twitter.com/rosscwilliams rosscwilliams

    News is free. In fact, most journalists have considered it unethical to pay for it.  Its the gathering, reporting and delivering of it that costs money. And the cost of doing those things has declined dramatically to the point where most news OUGHT to be free. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/brianhaas Brian Haas

    When I hear young people talk about consuming news, they
    don’t want to pay for it — they want it all for free. And that pisses me off.

  • Jack Burke

    How is “youth-culture expert” defined? How does one become a “youth-culture expert”? 

  • http://twitter.com/rosscwilliams rosscwilliams

    Most news organizations are in the business of making money from advertising. Why would they care about informing young people? They don’t inform the rest of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/emerson.schwartzkopf Emerson Schwartzkopf

    Most general news is still written at the comprehension level of the average middle-schooler. And, between search-engine collections and news aggregators, there’s coverage of every notable news event that’s free to read on the Web. Danah Boyd’s argument is specious and a clumsy attempt to mask the intellectual laziness and lack of responsibility of those being defined as “young people.” And that’s what pisses ME off.

  • Anonymous

    IF, in fact, what the youth-culture expert says is true — and it may well be — then, given the interconnectedness of the global economy and how it affects their lives and well being, the youth of the country are not as smart as they are supposed to be. either that or somebody — probably the school systerm — just hasn’t bothered to explain it to them in simple, understandable real-life terms, which is just as likely.

  • http://twitter.com/ProducerMatthew Matthew Keys

    With her ethos, Microsoft should tap Boyd to build an ad-free youth-focused newsroom for a new Bing News vertical.