MijnZ: Can an Internet site strengthen the connection between journalism and youth?

TitleMijnZ: Can an Internet site strengthen the connection between journalism and youth?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Duiven, R., N. Drok, and L. Hermans
Affiliation (1st Author)Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeJRE W4c
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE W4c
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session Title Journalists and Social Media – what will the future hold? Theme II: Innovations in Journalism
Submission ID7031

An important explanation for the decrease in the print run of newspapers is that young people consume less and less news (Elvestad & Blekesaune, 2008). It is important to get youth back to news to encourage the social involvement of this generation (Mindich, 2005) and to ensure the future of the (regional) press. The connection between journalism and youth is weak. The content of news does not relate with the daily lives of youth (Buckingham, 2000) and news does not reach youth. They want to know everything, during the whole day, but with little effort (Costera Meijer, 2006). News needs to be quick, short and everywhere. Journalists can act accordingly by offering news on platforms which are easy to reach for youth.Drok & Schwarz (2009) concluded that youth are definitely interested in regional news and background information, which is oriented at them and relevant to their world. To reach younger people, media need to reconsider their news production routines. Research (e.g. Buckingham, 1999) has revealed which fundamental changes in the field of content (more spoken language, background information) and design (vivid lay-out; video’s) are necessary to attract youth again. Based on these findings, a regional newspaper developed a digital news medium to reach youth in Zwolle (15-30 years): MijnZ. MijnZ tries to meet the needs of youth by experimenting with content, design and accessibility. It fills a gap of the existing media offer by developing a media platform especially aimed at youth. This project contributes to the answer how journalists can strengthen young people’s interest for the regional press and – conversely – the interest of regional press for youth. MethodA multi-method approach is used. In the first quantitative measurement, youth in Zwolle (N=670) are questioned about their news media use, background information and the usage and appreciation of MijnZ. To get more in depth information, focus groups (N=30) were held. In January, the website is changed based on the recommendations from the first measurements. The second measurements (quantitative and qualitative) will evaluate today’s website.ResultsFirst results show that persons who are familiar with MijnZ, have characteristics positively related with news media use (e.g. higher educated, social engaged). However, of this group, just 11,9% uses MijnZ regular or often. The recommendations youth gave, indicated that they mainly miss background stories, columns and gossip. Furthermore, they want more serious news stories, news about important social themes, a more vivid lay-out and a better and more serious use of language.Conclusion The potential target group of MijnZ is much larger than the group they achieve at this moment. The recommendations clearly show that youth want more traditional things, brought in a contemporary way and aimed at their attitude to life. During the first period of the website, MijnZ focused too much on entertaining and sensational news, while youth want more serious content. Finally, we will give the aspects of success to strengthen the connection between journalism and youth.

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