Earlier this year, Talkback4Teens introduced a new segment to our monthly TV show called “Youth News.” We take a few moments out of the episode to talk about- you guessed it: youth news. This usually entails pouring over Facebook, looking through our Twitter accounts, Googling “youth news,” and picking up a paper throughout the month so that we can keep our viewers up to date. Yet, by the weekend before the episode, we are usually scrambling to find substantial news. All throughout the month we discard study after study already telling what is an obvious (and never questioned) truth. A few examples: “youth and energy drinks are a bad combo,” “teens text too much,” “teens are likely to drink if they’re friends drink,” and the worst of them all: “bullying still a major component of teens’ lives.”
Youth are an overlooked audience. And understandably so. We aren’t regarded to be interested in anything outside of our own lives.
But I believe that Facebook and Twitter is changing that. The news is all around us. Unlike a few years ago, you don’t have to purchase a paper or wait for the news to come on. In short, seeking the news is not as tedious as it once was; making “lazy” youth more likely to access it.
When a news story is already on your twitter feed, you’re more likely to click on it. Couple this with Facebook’s and Twitter’s excerpt feature (you can read the first lines of the story by clicking on the tweet- not the link- or when scrolling through your time timeline) and readers are going to be pulled in with, again, little work. Finally, when this news is being shared by people you know and trust, you are more likely to interact with the status/ tweet.
Clearly, teens are getting closer with the news. And we, the media, must do our part to meet them in the middle. Frivolous studies about bullying still being prevalent in youth culture is not actually youth news. Why? Because it’s not informing us! We already know bullying still exists! These stories are actually for adults who are looking for a peek into youth culture.
So what do our stories look like? Not very different than the stories targeted at adults but these stories will go further into how we will be affected. For example, people wonder why youth aren’t interested in politics. Well, it’s because most of us have no idea how we’ll be impacted by sequestration. But you had better believe my friends have been tweeting about the possible increase of minimum wage! We know exactly how that affects us.
Like many other adults, we will only read stories that affect us. And sadly, very few stories are written with youths in mind. This is not at all to say that they don’t exist. I’ve noticed hyperlocal outlets (news organizations that focus on just one area i.e. Democrat & Chronicle) are more likely to talk about the youth in the community. Nationally, it’s mostly the dire state of our education (although did you know our rate of graduation is at its highest since 1976?), which, as the youth sitting in those classrooms, we kind of already know how much our schools suck.
I am looking for news that is for us, not about us. We don’t need our own articles, studies, and features. We just want the same news fitted for us. I’d be interested in truly understanding how gun control will help the street violence we routinely see, how sequestration will affect my sequined pink wallet, but especially how the new Congress will handle community outreach programs, recreation centers, and other after-school programs. And sometimes you have to be obvious. Saying, people who make minimum wage may be hurt by Congress’ idea for a tax policy. We’re lazy, remember? Go that extra mile to meet us in the middle and say, “The tax policy will especially hurt minimum wage workers, of which youth make up half.”
In fact, did you know there’s a youth minimum wage? I know I didn’t. As youth vote, or prepare to vote in coming years, it’d be nice to have voters who actually know what policies (and consequences) they’re voting for.
Talkback: What do you guys think about the relationship between the news and youth?