Where O where have younger readers gone?
Probably to Buzzfeed.
Or to YouTube.
Maybe they’re making a Vine. Or texting their friends. Or playing a video game.
One thing is certain. Millennials probably aren’t reading your news.
They don’t like news.
At least that’s the conclusion of a new research study by Pew Research. Pew found that Millennials consume far less news than older generations. Look at these numbers for the amount of minutes each generation spent reading/watching news:
- Silent Generation – 84 minutes per day
- Baby Boomers – 77 minutes
- Generation X – 66 minutes
- Millennials – 46 minutes
Older generations are spending 20 to 40 minutes a day more on consuming news. Even worse? Millennials don’t appear to even enjoy following news. Here are the percentages of people in each generation who told Pew they liked following news:
- Silent Generation – 58 percent
- Baby Boomers – 58 percent
- Generation X – 45 percent
- Millennials – 29 percent
Obviously, these numbers indicate that the younger generation has less interest in news and journalism. Bad news indeed for news organization – both traditional and online media.
Trying to put lipstick on a pig, Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine tried to argue that perhaps younger readers spent less time on news because they are more efficient at consuming it (those old people do take a long time turning those newspaper pages).
According to Jarvis:
“They [Millennials] don’t have to block out time to sift through a newspaper to find what matters to them and more time sitting, passively watching an hour or more of local and national TV news to get a one-size-fits-all summary that could be more efficiently delivered online: more meat, less bun.”
I’m not convinced Jarvis has it right. While Millennials are certainly entrenched more in technology – the advantages of the Internet and mobile devices are there for Generation X and the Baby Boomers as well (the Silent Generation probably is lagging in this area). All of us are moving to online information – not just the younger set.
Nor does this explain their disinterest in following news.
The key to getting Millennials to engage more with news content may lie outside of the content. Instead it could be with how it is presented to them. News organizations, especially traditional ones, still rely heavily on text to present information. Even online news sources are inherently text-based.
So the answer to getting younger people to become more interested in news may be to re-imagine the way it is delivered.
The answer could be threefold:
- Be concise. Shorter stories. More bullets. Get to the point. Make it provocative and enticing right out of the gate.
- Be visual. Make it beautiful and elegant. Make it pop off the page. Make it a video. Add music and flare.
- Be interactive. Make it engaging. Ask for something – a share, an opinion, a thought… anything. Include the audience. Allow people to change it and make it their own.
What do you think? How can journalists and news organizations bring younger readers into the fold?
Poynter story on Pew’s new research
BuzzMachine on Millennials being more efficient