Is the news… dead?
In the traditional sense, we mean.
The results of our recent survey into the online behaviours of Gen Z certainly suggest so.
Just 49% of young people we surveyed in our What Gen Z Actually Do Online report said they checked the news at least once a week, meaning one in two Gen Zers (51%) go at least a week without accessing the news.
Sixteen per cent said they never consume the news.
But what do these numbers actually mean?
Are Gen Zs really abandoning the news, or are they just consuming it in a different way?
“For young people like myself who are predominantly on social media more so than watching live television, social media… is often our news source for social and political issues in the world,” an 18-year-old female from NSW said.
According to a Reuters digital news report into the news consumption of Gen Z in the US and UK, Gen Z is turning away from traditional news media in favour of Tik Tok, Instagram, YouTube, memes and even comment sections to keep up with what’s happening in their community and around the world.
So in this new era for news, how can the traditional media stay relevant?
First – formatting. The young people Reuters interviewed said a heavy reliance on smartphones means Gen Z prefer news formats that are more visual and easier to consume than an 800-word article.
“Some said the lack of context or background was often a problem too, so visual explainers – like those pioneered by Vox – tested well; as did other kinds of visual and mobile storytelling including graphical storytelling from publishers like the Guardian and the BBC.”
Second – social media. Innovate and make the effort to get it right. The ABC recently introduced Instagram reels in an attempt connect with younger audiences.
At first, it didn’t quite go as planned.
Producers adopted TikTok-style reel formats which were flooded with incensed commentators lashing the new format as a ‘dumbing down’ of the news.
But instead of licking their wounds and scrapping the experiment, ABC moderators faced the audience, inviting feedback and suggestions for improving the new format – saving the experiment and restoring trust amongst their audience.
Which leads us to our last piece of advice: listen to Gen Z
Ask Gen Z what they need.
They’re really not that hard to please.