Wick Communications

Young people and us

In journalism on 3 Mar 2017 at 9:02 am


“I think you have to really just listen to everything, and then pick out what you believe and what you think is really truthful.”

“If I don’t see it on social media, I’m not going to hear it.”

“Even if it’s factual, it may be sort of tainted.”

“I’ll believe your [citizen-captured] video before I’ll believe [one from the media]. Because they will tamper with theirs.”

These are representative responses gleaned from a new study called “How Youth Navigate the News Landscape,” released from the Data & Society Research Institute. The scientific study used focus groups of teenagers and young adults in three big U.S. cities.

The one over-arching message was that young people, in other words, our future consumers, express “widespread skepticism” about the news media and think most of it is biased.

Young people are more likely to trust user-generated content than things they get from a traditional news source like a newspaper. Why? Because they themselves share newsy nuggets and they trust that mechanism. These findings join a cascade of evidence that people of all ages have less trust in the news media than ever before.

Young people have a much wider definition of news than old-school newspaper editors might have. A friend’s new car, a presidential appointment, a new song from Drake — It’s all news. …

What are the implications for us? What causes a generation to dismiss professional journalism as just something else on the phone? How do we win back young people with no tradition of holding dear the protections brought by the Fourth Estate (young people, I might add, who probably have not ever heard that term?)

These are profound and existential questions for us. The answer is probably not to be found in another 15-inch story with a photo that is posted online two days after it was most relevant. These calls to action keep coming, until the day they will stop. That day will be too late. Together we need to interest this generation.


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