The Associated Press will present the full results of its qualitative, anthropological study of young media consumers around the world at the 2008 World Editors Forum in Gothenburg, Sweden, to be held June 1-4.
The results of the 2008 Newsroom Barometer already revealed that the decline among young readership was news editors' biggest concern worldwide.
AP's study aimed to better understand the behaviors of young readers aged between 18 and 34 - and how news organizations can fight this decline.
For the study, AP commissioned a team of anthropologists to follow 18 young individuals around the world and examine their media habits.
"We looked for just regular people," said Jim Kennedy, Vice President and Director for Strategic Planning at AP. "The only prerequisite was that we wanted them to be digital consumers."
Anthropologists quickly found that the digital news diet of this age group was very unbalanced, based mostly on 'facts' and 'updates' - two characteristics of email news. However, as opposed to some editors' conventional wisdom, the young consumers "wanted more than that. They wanted to find a path to the back story, and they wanted to find a path to what's going to happen next."
Among the other findings:
- The 18-34 demographic doesn't have a routine for news consumption, as was the case before with the printed newspaper.
- 16 of the 18 individuals consumed news through email, a popular and powerful platform that often tends to be discounted by traditional media.
- Almost all of them shared news with each other, through text messages, emails and social networks.
- "These young consumers are looking up to news as a form of social currency."
- "So (a way) to appeal to them... is to develop news that has social currency," said Kennedy.
The team followed individuals in six cities in the world, including four in the US (Philadelphia, Kansas City, Houston and Silicon Valley), Brighton in the UK, and Hyderabad in India.
Surprisingly, the study underlined few major cultural differences, according to Kennedy. "The young digital consumers in Hyderabad were very similar to the ones in Silicon Valley in the United States."
Kennedy will present the full results of the AP's study at the World Editors Forum.
Other preview interviews can be found here.
Source: Jim Kennedy, Vice President and Director for Strategic Planning, Associated Press