Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Speaking Their Language: How Publishers Can Meet Millennials on Their Turf

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Speaking Their Language: How Publishers Can Meet Millennials on Their Turf

Article excerpt

Imagine that the children you raised in your home--fed, sheltered, educated--have grown up and are now talking a different language than the one they learned in your home. You don't know where they learned this language, but you don't speak it.

Now you know what it is like to be a newspaper publisher trying to reach millennials.

You grew up in a different world being rewarded for another way of journalism.

But now your future depends on a group of people and you don't even share a common language.

You have two choices as editors and publishers: forget about them and hasten the death of our industry, or learn the language. And don't despair. Millennials want news.

(Forgive me for lumping millennials into a monolithic group. Behaviors vary within the group, but for the sake of this article, we'll use the term to mean those born between 1980 and 1999, and we will understand there are differences in the group.)

They are interested in news. Maybe they will not sit down to read the 2,500-word report on the Supreme Court decision, but they will find out what happened and form opinions. (My 21-year-old daughter watched a presidential candidates debate with us and when I asked her later what she thought of it she showed me a Facebook meme of Donald Tramp transformed into a Twinkie that bore an incredible resemblance. "That's my opinion," she said. Well played.) They discover news through their own networks (that foreign language thing again) but often come back to mainstream sources for independent confirmation. Still, others will go through a number of social media sites and blogs to get a variety of views about the news.

"Millennials are digital omnivores. They reach for their smartphones while they're on the go and use their tablets or PCs when they're in their homes and offices," writes Josie Balik in an article called, "How Enterprises Can Optimize Mobile Apps for Millennials" on the Mobile Business Insights sponsored by IBM. ( The days of sitting in the easy chair with the paper, or drinking coffee with the paper around the kitchen table--yeah, they're gone. Young people move and catch news on a smartphone while waiting in line at Starbucks.

They expect the interactive. The idea of delivering news on a one-way street is, to put it politely, quaint. Millennials want to engage those who deliver information. …

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