Print newspapers are keenly aware that their audiences are greying. Media pundits routinely decry the medium’s failure to attract the younger generation (see “How newspapers lost the millennials”).
Personally, I am a newspaper reader – the kind of newspaper that you throw in the recycling bin when you are finished with it. This is another way of saying that I am long in the tooth. Indeed, later this year I will be turning the Big Four-Oh.
And thus, in the spirit of unscientific experiments, I’ve decided to read like a Millennial for a week. I will eschew my morning newspaper and I will consume news as though I am Gen Y.
My plan is simple.
For seven days, I’ll forgo my daily newspaper and read only Millennial-friendly news media sites. I limit myself to four: BuzzFeed, Vice, Circa, and Mic. According to experts, these sites are visited frequently by readers 18 to 34.
Sure, there are many other sites popular with Millennials (see ComScore’s list in Digiday), but these are some of the big ones, and as I said, unscientific.
Here’s what I discover.
Day 1: Millennial news blends commentary with fact.
The dominance of light news is immediately apparent on most of these sites. Facts and opinion mix freely. The headlines are most often the giveaway, like this one from Mic: “Fox News hosts recommend the worst possible New Year’s resolution for women.”
Circa steers away from opinion, presenting only serious news in the smallest, most concise bits (they’ve called it “atomising the news”).
All of it is a very quick read.
Day 2: NSFW means what it says.
Vice feels like the publication Sam Zell wanted the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune to be.
This is where I learned (a moment too late) that NSFW stands for Not Safe For Work. If you intend to remain employed, then do not click Vice.com/nsfw at the office.
Day 3: Millennial news is fun, at any cost.
It’s hard to ignore this headline from the relationship experts at BuzzFeed: “Which cereal mascot should you bang.”
Regardless of the surrounding content, the fun spirit cannot be dampened. The Tony the Tiger piece is followed by: “Senseless mass murder claims 9 lives in Edmonton, Canada.” No kidding.
Day 4: Sharing is popular.
Most of these sites promote sharing, posting, tweeting, and whatever else it is Millennials are doing on their phones. Tindering, I think.
Not one site encourages me to print the story, highlight the funny bits, and mail it to my mom.
These sites do lead with technology. The taps and the scrolls work like magic. The navigation feels intuitive and focused. Circa has the friendliest scrolls (part of a free downloadable app) and ticks off where you are in a story and what you have already read.
Day 5: Cursing is rampant.
In the traditional newspaper business, editors fret whether the word damn should appear as quoted or in some less offensive format. Darn, say, or perhaps (expletive).
Not so with Millennial news.
Sample headline from Vice: “Happy New Year! Here’s a bunch of bad shit that’s about to happen.” And that’s a relatively quaint example. Though BuzzFeed and Mic are also fine with swearing, Vice takes the curse crown for style.
Day 6: Hockey ranks low.
On Day 6, I want to know if Team Canada has advanced in the world junior hockey tournament.
I tap the BuzzFeed Sports section. I do not find the hockey score. I do find “7 reasons Space Jam was totally realistic.” If you are unacquainted, Space Jam was a 1990s basketball movie featuring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny.
Journalist Michael Wolff calls all of this new digital media “a deluge of crap.” I say it’s hard to disagree. Millennials would say that Wolff is over 60, and that he’s lost most of his hair.
I cannot handle it.
Soon after, I crack. I cannot spend my entire Saturday reading listicles. Instead, I down a quart of coffee while devouring two print newspapers, front to back. Yes, home-delivered.
Thank you, Telegraph Journal.
Thank you, Globe and Mail.