Engaging The Next Generation Of News Consumers

The Paley Center for Media invited me and Neon Tommy to join a discussion this past week about how the news industry could start doing a better job of capturing the eyeballs and (wallets) of the next generation.

My takeaways:

–Aurasma wants to replace QR codes with a tiny “A” logo, and then deliver mobile phones and iPads something more interactive than a link to an app or webpage. They want people to scan images on everything from billboards at bus stops to the daily newspaper to jerseys.

I say forget print and magazines. Anyone who is reading the print product is probably not big on using their mobile/tablet device. If they are big on using digital devices and still reading your print product, you should be doing a better job of making the reading more awesome on those devices.

Since I saw a guy driving around the USC community a few weeks ago changing posters on bus stops, I say that’s a great idea. People are bored in those situations. Whenever people are bored, you have a great marketing opportunity. I don’t know why more people don’t advertise on bus stops, especially since the people who ride bus stops can probably be influenced more easily than car drivers. Less spending power, granted.

The Atavist’s idea to integrate videos, pictures, maps and roll-over background information is brilliant. Let’s bring that to Vanity Fair, N.Y. Mag and New Yorker.

–Simplifying is going to be the key for news organizations to get young kids to understand the news. The L.A. Times has been taking a stab at that with recent investigations, including today’s about used cars sales. They’ve got a reporter on video trying to explain to the common person what the hell this long story is about.

The experience would be better if you could easily flip through the handful of 30-second videos and if one of the questions the reporter answered was simply, “How the hell does this affect me — a person with enough money to sit around reading this article?” The answer in this case probably has a little something to do with compassion for regular folk. And “you guys really missed a huge problem” for lawmakers.

–A lot of talk about how my generation gets news. News organizations would benefit by using “news alerts” more…text, facebook or mobile app. Force yourselves into the mediums “kids” use and be the one that constantly delivers them news. And solicit immediate feedback. Right now, I get CNN text messages for big events about half an hour after I see it on Twitter from Reuters or get an email from the L.A. Times. CNN needs to fix that. The only time they win the race is early in the morning since I check texts before everyone else.

What if you could have a conversation with a CNN robot about the news. Imagine, if I told CNN that I wake up at 8:15 a.m. everyday. At 8:10 a.m., CNN delivers me an alert or text to the top of my phone with top 5 things I need to know with a useful ad about the day at the bottom. Week before Halloween? How about a candy deal.

Back to that conversation thing, I get a text from CNN saying, Steve Jobs is dead. Can I immediately reply back saying “oh my god.” and turn that into a comment on CNN’s website?

–One person questioned whether interactive games/projects such as News21 energy’s meter deal were really journalism. One of the roles of journalism is to make people smarter. Things like this and the budget balancer on hundreds of websites allows this to happen.

–Magazines freak me out. I get ESPN and SI. They always look like a daunting package. I know it takes me at least an hour to get through one. I don’t like carrying them around in my backup.

I have the SI app on my Android and iPad. Maybe I don’t have the settings right but I never get alerts about when new issues are ready. That’s dumb. And the experience on the digital devices need to be less daunting.

Figure out what content is most timely and what is most relevant to me. Float that to the top. Figure out when I have time based on my habits of using the device/using the Internet. Alert me to the stuff that’s relevant to me. Except for when I’m flying, I find myself reading magazine articles moreso when I come across it at a good time rather than picking up an issue and sitting down with it.

–Speaking of magazines, newspapers should start asking how can we get a 13-year-old to ask his mom to pay for news online in the same way that I asked my mom to buy me a subscription to SI. The answer has something to do with local sports content, the class room and reviews that beat the online competitors. Part of that also includes delivering a different version of the same story to a 13-year-old than the one a 23-year-old gets and one a 53-year-old gets.

–The Washington Post social reader on Facebook is really cool. As is the Spotify app. But as a told Andy Mitchell of Facebook, the experience could be even better. What if I could highlight a particular part of a song I want my friend to listen to or a particular section in article? Or what if I just want to comment throughout the song.

In the same way, Google Docs brings up the collaboratively online working environment, it’s Facebook that can do the same for reading. Several start-ups have attempted to it, but they won’t bring it mainstream. Facebook can. For advertisers, knowing exactly what part of something someone truly liked or someone thought of makes a lot of sense. For researchers, sentiment analysis could improve.

Most of all, let’s do this for textbooks, so students can collectively complain together. For digital textbooks, it’s also instant feedback for textbook publishers about how much they screwed up.

Focus groups work because of the instant, tailored and specific feedback. General feedback usually is broad and unhelpful. So let’s make it as easy as possible to shout instantaneously.

–I like to think about things in terms of my mom. I’m pretty sure my mom gets most of her news from the local NPR affiliate on her way to and from work in the morning. I’m surprised about the huge focus on the Internet while radio remains hugely used. How can we make radio more engaging?

–In a random complaint, Google News gets Youtube but why doesn’t Youtube get Google News?

Engaging the Next Generation of News Consumers (Part 1) from The Paley Center For Media on FORA.tv

Engaging the Next Generation of News Consumers (Part 2) from The Paley Center For Media on FORA.tv

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