It’s no secret that young people love the internet. I mean, what’s not to like? Instant movies and music, information on every subject imaginable and social connections are all just a click away.
Most members of Generation Y would say that their most prized possession is their phone, which enables connections to this mystical World Wide Web and all the knowledge it possesses. Whereas the older Generations, X and Baby Boomers, would claim the younger generation is too self-obsessed to be concerned with world issues.
However, with the growing online media market, more and more young people are turning to the internet for their primary source of news; and they’re not just reading about the gossip on Kimye, but news on politics, business, sport, and local and global issues.
Essentially, for news sites to survive in a constantly evolving market, it’s crucial for them to hit the right connection with younger readers who are the primary users of the web. It is estimated that 89% of young people use the internet on a daily basis and 98% of 18-25 year olds are on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. By providing easy to understand material on a range of issues from the Federal budget to the Crimean crisis, sites like Crikey, New Matilda and the now one-year-old Guardian Australia are all using engaging techniques to grab readers’ attentions and make them want to return to their site.
The more tabloid-y sites like Vice, Buzzfeed and Junkee still have a focus on important issues, but also use pop culture and human-interest stories to draw readers to their sites. These sorts of sites rely on the spread of social media for their popularity and revenue. By having this focus on social media growth, they encourage readers to participate in conversations and share articles/videos/quizzes with their friends across platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, last year Buzzfeed was named the “most social” publisher on Facebook with 16 million “interactions” in the course of one month, with Huffington Post coming second with 12 million interactions.
Of course, it’s almost impossible to find out the exact demographics that these sites appeal to, but with a fresh and innovative take on news, they are surely popular with under 30’s.
So with an ever-changing media landscape, it is essential for news sites to also evolve in order to engage young readers. The real question is if they will be able to keep up with reader’s demands for interesting and engaging stories, whilst upholding journalistic integrity.