There exists a great fear and frustration in the journalism industry that the youth of today aren’t as engaged in news as past generations. Microsoft researcher and youth-culture expert Danah Boyd said, “General news is not relevant to young people because they don’t have context. It’s a lot of abstract storytelling and arguing among adults that makes no sense. So most young people end up consuming celebrity news.” I would add that sports news is another place to which youth turn.
Why is this a problem? For the news organizations it’s obviously a problem because it threatens their earnings, but the issue is more profound than that. In the United States, there’s a lack of connection to the world. Only upon leaving the country have I come to realize this. With a media and entertainment culture as powerful as ours, it isn’t a natural inclination to go out into the world searching to learn about other cultures. Why would you when the entire world seems to be turned towards us? Whatever the cause, it’s from here that stems the negative stereotypes of Americans, such as being bad at geography. Coming to Europe, every country seems more connected. Not by choice, but by the mere fact that they are close in proximity.
It’s one thing to acknowledge the problem, it’s another to fix it. While reading an Italian newspaper, I came across an article about the newspaper “Corriere Della Sera” and its efforts to put content online. This is not a feat in itself. The fact that the content was going straight to Facebook, one of the most influential tools today in regards to young people, was unique.
I find myself able to enter into international news more easily because I have met people from all around the world, turning abstractions and concepts into faces and personalities. This clearly is not an option for everyone, but it is proof that young people can enter into a relationship with news if they find a way to make it relevant. A number of American newspapers including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are already a part of this trend, and with any luck will catch the eyes of my generation and banish international/Youtube embarrassments in the future. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.