In a global world we have easy access to news that happens anywhere in the world within minutes or hours. I’ve noticed more people my age (in their 30s) say they simply don’t watch the news. Rather than a constant reminder of problems that are so large and remote that it overwhelms them, they tune it out. Or, like me, I get most of it from Yahoo news or from blogs.
What about the younger crowd, how do they view the news? The World Editors Forum recently took place in Sweden and cultural anthropologists looked into this question. The Associated Press (AP) and Context-Based Research, an ethnographic research firm based in Baltimore, presented on their study about how young adults around the world read news (PDF).
Young adults aged 18 to 34 participated in the study. They were from Britain, India and the United States. People in the study said they are overloaded with facts and updates and wanted higher quality and in-depth reporting (what, don’t they read blogs! ).
“As anthropologists we immerse ourselves in a culture and are able to see what people do versus what they say they do,” said Dr. Robbie Blinkoff, co-founder and principal anthropologist at Context-Based Research Group. “Our observations and analysis identified that consumers’ news diets are out of balance due to the over-consumption of facts and headlines. In an effort to lead them to more ‘nourishing’ in-depth stories we provided AP with a framework for content delivery innovation.”
Here’s some other findings:
- The group wanted more depth when they read the news online.
- They are often multitasking rather than giving reading or listening to the news their full attention. They often skimmed the news headlines (which seems to contradict the complaint they the news isn’t more in-depth).
- Many get their news by email.
- It’s important for them to know what is going on – knowing what is happening in the news is a form of social currency.
In response, the AP is changing the way they deliver news and linking “news content across platform and brand” so it’s easier to find relevant news. This is notable since “on any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP.”