| NAA mediaXchange is the largest annual gathering of industry executives in North America, offering unprecedented networking opportunities that combine an exchange of information and ideas with programming designed to generate results. The conference is designed to provide valuable ideas and insights to help newspaper professionals grow audience and revenue for their print and digital products. Sessions highlight leading-edge thinking about media strategies, successes in product and revenue development, new ideas and innovation inside and outside the industry, and tactics and techniques to employ in print and digital.
Catching Youth: Their Eyes and Their Attention #NAAmxc10
By Bianca Fortis
Michael Smith, executive director of the Media Management Center (MMC) at Northwestern University, doesn't advocate changing news Web sites to attract younger readers. Instead, he thinks news organizations should create new home pages altogether.
Smith said the typical news site caters to "news junkies" who have a deep understanding of the news. These sites don't appeal to teens and tweens, who find them too overwhelming and confusing.
What teens really want, he said, is a way to keep up, as well as more help with understanding the news and more help getting interested in news.
The goal is to develop a prototype that is a condensed version of the daily newspaper, he added.
In "Teens Know What They Want From Online News: Do You," a 2009 study from the NAA Foundation and MMC, researchers found that the news site youths liked most was one that provided story summaries, background and explanation and was not too cluttered.
Smith suggested creating a second home page targeted toward both youths and adult casual readers. He said this home page can be used to engage these readers and encourage them to migrate to the main site.
Jeanne Fox-Alston, vice president of the NAA Foundation, said young people spend as much time consuming media as their parents spend working: an average of 7 hours, 38 minutes each day.
"We at the Foundation really want to see this demographic be informed and be engaged in news," she said.
Newspapers can engage young people, Fox-Alston said, by providing ways for them to get information about things to do. In addition, newspapers can develop Twitter alerts that might appeal to youth and create a connection between social networks and news Web sites through Facebook Connect or another Open ID platform.
Dr. Aralynn McMane of the World Association of Newspapers stressed reaching out to parents and teachers because they are key influencers in the way youths use media.
McMane shared examples of how newspapers around the world have engaged youths, such as hosting contests related to the environment and sustainability. She said newspapers should strive to give young people hope for the future.
Bianca Fortis is a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Find out more about Bianca and the other students reporting live from NAA mediaXchange here.
Apr 12 2010, 06:44 PM
About Amanda Knowles
Amanda Knowles is Web & Social Media Manager at the Newspaper Association of America. Before coming to NAA, Amanda spent four years working in print journalism, both at the college and professional level. She has worked as a copy editor and news page designer for two daily newspapers in northwestern Pennsylvania, The Erie Times-News and The Meadville Tribune. Most recently, she collaborated on The American Observer, the online magazine edited and produced by graduate journalism students at American University in Washington, D.C. Amanda believes strongly in the secure future of the newspaper, and is excited to be a participant in the movement to integrate traditional print media into the burgeoning digital world.