Adapting to stay relevant
On Wednesday about twenty minutes after Alex Ferguson announced his retirement I was bored of the story. I will admit that part of this had to do with my aversion to all things football but the majority of it had to do with the explosion of tweets, blog posts and stories on the football legend, I was inundated and overwhelmed. The next day when I picked up the newspaper to see Fergie’s face all over the front page I was immediately struck by how old the news was.
As a twenty something I can count on one hand the number of my friends who read a newspaper regularly and most of the ones that do are journalists. Newspapers, both tabloid and broadsheet, are not very appealing to young people. While it has always been true that young people are less engaged with news than older generations, it’s no longer that my friends don’t care about world events (as it was when we were in school and college) they just don’t see newspapers as a news source. Although some would say, saying young people no longer read newspapers is like saying young people no longer listen to Opera, they never did!
A recent study by Pew Research in the US found that young people’s attention spans are falling and they have limited desire for in depth analysis. They live in a world of “instant gratification and quick fixes” which leads to a “loss of patience and a lack of deep thinking”. Newspapers rely on the deep thinkers to read their comment and analysis – it’s what sets them apart from the likes of twitter.
Media organisations across the world are trying to figure out how to compete for young people’s extremely limed attention spans. The Irish media is no exception to this and it’s great to see the traditional media taking steps to ensure they stay relevant to younger users. On Tuesday the Irish Times announced that the cult Off the Ball Team would be joining the newspapers digital division and would be producing a weekly sports podcast. Over the past few months the Irish Times and the Irish Independent have both unveiled new responsive websites obviously targeting the mobile user. The Irish Times has started a new live blog of the day featuring breaking news stories and comment from the live blogger in an attempt to be more engaging and community based. Requests for video and interactive content from journalists are now common place and static text articles no longer do the job. The Sunday Business Post do a useful round-up of top news stories each day and are also adept at putting up immediate commentary to events as they happen.
Traditional media sources are extremely aware of the need to adapt with the times, but not every current affairs website needs to adopt the Buzzfeed model to remain relevant… I hope!