Friday, 26 February 2016

Teenagers and newspapers, is that even a thing? - by Pavani Konda.



The tradition of news goes back centuries and newspapers have been part of our lives for more than 300 years, but this age-old medium is now in decline. The Independent is closing shop, physically at least, to become the “first fully digital newspaper”.

But what does the possible disappearance of print media mean for someone like me? 17-years-old and belonging in the so-called ‘next generation’.

When I was younger, I used to scan broadsheet headlines because that’s what my parents did, it felt like a grown up thing to do. In secondary school, I joined a team of school reporters with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of finding an interest. I have always fallen into a group of young people who follow the news and it helped that everyone I met told me this was a good habit.

Like me, a lot of young people are interested in the news, organisations such as the British Youth Council and the United Kingdom Youth Parliament are example enough of thousands of young people who care about local issues. Having been a previous member of these charities, I've interacted with young people across the country that followed the news and were keen on voicing their opinions. However, the platform that most of these young people follow the news on is the internet.

According to Ofcom, in 2014, 60 per cent of young people aged 16-24 consumed news through social media or the internet. I think the reason for this is because of the way young people can interact with news online in a way that print can’t offer.

Almost every time I search for something on Twitter, if a trending hashtag catches my eye I find myself clicking away through the links presented by those hashtags. It’s common for me and my friends to bring up a piece of news and someone in the conversation to say ‘I saw that it was trending all over Twitter’. For young people who are keen to be part of a bigger conversation, who don’t want to just read the news but share their views and, more importantly, get a variety of opinions; Twitter and other platforms such as Reddit are the perfect fit.

With young people enjoying so much interaction with news on digital platforms, are we the reason that media outlets are turning to the internet?  After all, we are the future audience the future media will be targeting. It’s possible. I will admit that despite being a young person interested in current affairs, I have never actually bought a newspaper, except for those times where I got a free bottle of water. I didn’t see the point of spending money for the exact same content I have access to on my phone, at times in a more digestible form. For a generation with small attention spans, it makes sense.

The shift of print to online platforms is similar to the change of technology in other aspects of our lives. Just like how a few decades ago vinyl records became cassettes which then became CDs and now CDs are becoming digital. The medium has changed but it’s still music we listen to.

Technology in all its formats develops to work around the evolution of lifestyles. We are becoming more digitally demanding. Why wait for tomorrow’s paper when you can get 24-hour news alerts on your phone?

One day the majority of print will shift online, but as long as the generations before me are around, so will print. Who knows, maybe one day the place to find newspapers will be small ‘retro’ stores, tucked away like the places many people go hunting for vinyl records today.

Pavani Konda is a 17-year-old, Year 13 student at Whitley Academy.