The youth of South Africa aren’t watching the news like they used to.
What can be done? How can we keep the youth of this democracy informed?
Let’s first look at two examples of broadcasted news from SABC to see what’s unappealing to the youth.
Example 1 – Studio Interview
Example 2 – External Reporting
Unappealing elements for youth:
- Too long
- In need of a summary of main points
- Too mono-sourced
- There could be more information presented at once
- Hard to follow (as an outsider)
- Need a comparison (supplementary facts)
- Not enough human element conveyed – high view of topic only
- Youth can’t easily place themselves into the topic (though the topic is about their education)
- In need of visual representation of stats
- Outfits blend into the background
- Nothing catches your eye
- Young people enjoyed:
- Frontline footage of the action
- The human factor
- Both sides of the story being fairly equally presented
The new news should…
Be more succinct
Presenters and reporters can stick to more main points and rely on overlaid text to present further details. Time is wasted especially when there is no pivotal footage – only B-roll with voiceover. The points can at least be reiterated visually since younger generations are much more visually oriented.
Make use of more sources
Youth are more used to our information-centric world and are able to consume quite large amounts of information at once. They would rather get their ‘quick fix’ of news and then move on to the next thing than sit while someone reads out every fact. By presenting a more holistic view through the use of not just the news station’s own interviews and video footage, but also
This is ‘quick fix’ should however not skimp on information as the youth want MORE information. By presenting a more holistic view through the use of not just the news station’s own interviews and video footage, but also online media sources the youth will feel like they are making efficient use of their time by getting all the information they need from one report. It will also help those with shorter attention spans stay engaged for the entire report.
Gathering news is expensive, but it is cheaper to gather sources online than on the ground, therefore the supplementing of the ‘on the ground’ reporting with additional online resources should not incur that great a cost.
Since young people are some of the most prolific publishers of online media, the using of this media (such as photos and videos from Facebook and Twitter) in reporting would make young people feel included and relevant.
Visually reiterate facts
This will allow young people to make more informed conclusions as some people (especially politicians) can tend to talk in circles. Displaying the main points ACCURATELY (and as objectively as possible) will make it easier for young people to follow news reports and make sound conclusions.
Visually unpack stats
Spoken statistics don’t often ‘hit home’ for many people. Visually presenting statistics through graphs and charts will allow young people to contextualise them, give meaning to them and make up their minds about issues surrounding them. This will help young people on their way to thinking critically about the news.
Keep up the professional dress code while showing presenters’ personalities
The professional dress code gives viewers a sense of security in the qualifications and capabilities of those presenting the news.
Since our society tends to follow unique, strong personalities and the initial way we come to know someone is by their appearance, news presenters should be allowed have more of a say in what they wear on air. This will add some more interest to the viewing of news.
Make reference to its online counterpart
Since the web is where broadcast news is losing a lot of its younger audience, news 2.0 should have a strong up-to-date web presence that can effectively supplement the broadcast wing but can also stand well on its own. In order to get more traffic through the website, it should be punted regularly in the broadcasted news as somewhere you can go to recap news stories, to find immediate updates on stories and to access interactive documentaries. While a story is being aired there should be a QR code at the bottom of the screen which can be scanned by a phone in order to take the viewer directly to that story’s supplementary web page.
Allow users to upload their own relevant media to news articles online and make comments
These comments and media files will be screened for derogatory statements and the media items checked for relevance before being made visible to the public. The video footage will most likely be candid shots which will give the audience a sense of immersion into the situation.
Have a mobile-centred website with expandable points
This will allow readers to quickly swipe through a news report, getting all the pivotal facts at a glance but also being able to expand each point to reveal more details needed. There will also be an option to ‘expand/collapse all’ depending on whether the reader feels like reading a full summary or a fully detailed report. This will fill the youth’s need for quick news with a lot of information.