Innovative news sites reel in young readership

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.

Screenshot of Crikey homepage: 9:30pm 29/05/14

Screenshot of Crikey homepage: 9:30pm 29/05/14

Screenshot of The Guardian Australia homepage: 9:30pm 29/05/14

Screenshot of The Guardian Australia homepage: 9:30pm 29/05/14

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.

Face Engagement data taken from NewsWhip Spike for articles published from 1-31 August 2013. Source: SPIKE, Via. The Guardian

Face Engagement data taken from NewsWhip Spike for articles published from 1-31 August 2013. Source: SPIKE, Via. The Guardian

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.


4 responses to “Innovative news sites reel in young readership

  1. I agree with you that generation Y are more obsessed with their gadgets in this century. Everywhere you go, people are on their mobiles, tablets and etc. Not many are reading hard copy newspapers this few days. Even if people distribute free papers at the train station, I seldom see youngsters taking it. Mobiles and tablets have taken a big part of our life and we can slowly see the trend of not reading news from hard copy dying.

    I have to say young people are now less engaged with the news with social media becoming a part of our daily lives. Youngsters do not flip the papers in the morning when they wake up. Instead, they scroll continuously on their Twitter timeline.

  2. I agree with your observations here Jade. I think that news publications are finding their feet more and more online. And who spends the most time online? Young people. If sites like Buzzfeed and Pedestrian are getting the numbers by interspersing hard news with soft stories then I think that type of reporting has its place online. We need young people to engage with topical issues and remain informed and the internet provides the largest opportunity for journalists to reach them. I don’t know many (if any) young people who are willing to pay for news content when there is so much available free online.

  3. Without a doubt, my exposure to news and social issues comes directly from my use of social media. It’s easy, and I think more importantly, news comes to me rather than me looking for it. I don’t think news sites have a choice. We are the future, and to appeal to us, they need to use the online medium to their advantage.

  4. What we are seeing now in this digital age is a change in how we, particularly Gen Y, consume our news. These innovative sites are leading the way because they have realised that and have changed with their audience. I don’t think young people are less engaged in news at all because the sheer abundance of content available online means that we can quite easily become informed about any news issue or event that we desire. Social media has given us a great platform where users have the ability to comment, share and participate in discussion, which only serves to further promote engagement in news.

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