20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

“If news organizations can’t commit to hiring young people to tell their own stories, they at the very least should productize content in a way that appeals to Gen Z.”

I have to come clean: The number of times I’ve asked Gen Z’ers to show me what they do on their phones and how they interface with the information they’re after borderlines on the obsessive.

I want to crack the code for how news organizations can capture the attention and loyalty of a generation they’ll soon depend on to remain relevant and financially viable. Gen Z is entering the job market and in the U.S. alone has direct spending power in the tens of billions.

As news organizations try to make sense of how to best reach Gen Z’ers, two factors come into play. First, content coverage needs to appeal to young people — and “not by interviewing them or telling their stories,” as wrote Amy King in her 2019 Nieman Lab prediction, “but by letting them tell their stories themselves. What would be really great is if an established, legacy newsroom hired 15 23-year-olds to run a vertical of their own.”

Legacy newsrooms have taken King’s idea (somewhat) under consideration. Vox, which recently acquired New York Media, has Terry Nguyễn on-staff. She’s a Gen Zer and a reporter for The Goods, covering a content vertical of direct interest to Gen Z — product discovery and research.

She also created and runs the newsletter Gen Yeet. The most recent issue predicted that “the media will considerably shorten the lifetime of a meme. Outlets are hiring reporters for positions like digital teen culture reporter as the NYT, NBC News, CNN, or whatever are battling to scoop the next Big Meme. ‘Ok boomer’ represents the beginning of the end for snarky generational clapbacks.” (I recently saw one of these job postings on LinkedIn. Business Insider is hiring a “Teen Culture Reporter,” who will likely not be a teen.)

But if news organizations can’t commit to hiring young people to tell their own stories, they at the very least should productize content in a way that appeals to Gen Z.

Because news flash: News is a product! News products need to mirror the appeal of social media products to satisfy Gen Z. And currently, news apps aren’t cutting it.

A recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism dug deep into the news and information habits of young people (20 people, ages 18-35, equally split between the U.S. and the U.K.). It found that:

on those 20 young people’s phones, Instagram was the primary app…News apps, by comparison, received much less usage. Apple News is pre-installed on iPhones, which helps account for its relative prominence here — but no news app (with the exception of Reddit) was within the top 25 apps used by respondents…

So what are some product-first solutions for news organizations?

  • Establish a strong Instagram account. Even if a news org’s content is behind a paywall, their Instagram account isn’t. This gives Gen Z consumers, often unwilling to pay for a subscription if they can’t try before they buy, an opportunity to engage with a news org’s content and become familiar with the brand. Content should be product-fluid, like this New York Times story which succeeds on and off platform.
  • Content needs to be visual-first, and predominantly video-first. We know Gen Z prefers to get its news and information from visual-first social media products like TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. News-related video content should find similarly creative ways to include text in their videos, from closed captioning to this TikTok text trend.
  • Incite (easy) engagement. Let readers give articles a “like” — the action mirrors hearting an Instagram post, up-voting on Reddit, or thumbing up (or down) on YouTube. These actions are all natural reflexes for social-first Gen Zers interacting with content.
  • Consider alternate platforms for content output, like text message newsletters. A Gen Z-targeted and run news product, The Cramm, comes in the form of a short-but-sweet daily newsletter via email or text message. Email is free and text is 99 cents a month. Note: If a Gen Zer set the price, then you know it’s what she and her peers are willing to pay for news content!

Nico Gendron is program manager for the Instagram Local News Fellowship.

I have to come clean: The number of times I’ve asked Gen Z’ers to show me what they do on their phones and how they interface with the information they’re after borderlines on the obsessive.

I want to crack the code for how news organizations can capture the attention and loyalty of a generation they’ll soon depend on to remain relevant and financially viable. Gen Z is entering the job market and in the U.S. alone has direct spending power in the tens of billions.

As news organizations try to make sense of how to best reach Gen Z’ers, two factors come into play. First, content coverage needs to appeal to young people — and “not by interviewing them or telling their stories,” as wrote Amy King in her 2019 Nieman Lab prediction, “but by letting them tell their stories themselves. What would be really great is if an established, legacy newsroom hired 15 23-year-olds to run a vertical of their own.”

Legacy newsrooms have taken King’s idea (somewhat) under consideration. Vox, which recently acquired New York Media, has Terry Nguyễn on-staff. She’s a Gen Zer and a reporter for The Goods, covering a content vertical of direct interest to Gen Z — product discovery and research.

She also created and runs the newsletter Gen Yeet. The most recent issue predicted that “the media will considerably shorten the lifetime of a meme. Outlets are hiring reporters for positions like digital teen culture reporter as the NYT, NBC News, CNN, or whatever are battling to scoop the next Big Meme. ‘Ok boomer’ represents the beginning of the end for snarky generational clapbacks.” (I recently saw one of these job postings on LinkedIn. Business Insider is hiring a “Teen Culture Reporter,” who will likely not be a teen.)

But if news organizations can’t commit to hiring young people to tell their own stories, they at the very least should productize content in a way that appeals to Gen Z.

Because news flash: News is a product! News products need to mirror the appeal of social media products to satisfy Gen Z. And currently, news apps aren’t cutting it.

A recent report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism dug deep into the news and information habits of young people (20 people, ages 18-35, equally split between the U.S. and the U.K.). It found that:

on those 20 young people’s phones, Instagram was the primary app…News apps, by comparison, received much less usage. Apple News is pre-installed on iPhones, which helps account for its relative prominence here — but no news app (with the exception of Reddit) was within the top 25 apps used by respondents…

So what are some product-first solutions for news organizations?

  • Establish a strong Instagram account. Even if a news org’s content is behind a paywall, their Instagram account isn’t. This gives Gen Z consumers, often unwilling to pay for a subscription if they can’t try before they buy, an opportunity to engage with a news org’s content and become familiar with the brand. Content should be product-fluid, like this New York Times story which succeeds on and off platform.
  • Content needs to be visual-first, and predominantly video-first. We know Gen Z prefers to get its news and information from visual-first social media products like TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. News-related video content should find similarly creative ways to include text in their videos, from closed captioning to this TikTok text trend.
  • Incite (easy) engagement. Let readers give articles a “like” — the action mirrors hearting an Instagram post, up-voting on Reddit, or thumbing up (or down) on YouTube. These actions are all natural reflexes for social-first Gen Zers interacting with content.
  • Consider alternate platforms for content output, like text message newsletters. A Gen Z-targeted and run news product, The Cramm, comes in the form of a short-but-sweet daily newsletter via email or text message. Email is free and text is 99 cents a month. Note: If a Gen Zer set the price, then you know it’s what she and her peers are willing to pay for news content!

Nico Gendron is program manager for the Instagram Local News Fellowship.

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Kevin D. Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

L. Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Millie Tran   Wicked

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Joshua Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Richard J. Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article