Local News and a Diversity of Youth Voices: Exploring Mutual Benefits

A common, but not oft-discussed thread throughout conversations about how to strengthen democracy is young people. What happens with the teens of today, will stay with the country for years. This reality has spurred many ideas and potential solutions, but data helps us focus in on a critical point: Young people don’t feel represented in politics or news. There’s lots of conversation about the former, but less on the latter. This is why we’re excited to participate in the Online News Association’s summit with local news leaders this weekend.

Beliefs about politics and news influence engagement, and youth who are disempowered and civically alienated are much more likely to NOT trust major news media. As a country, we cannot afford for young adults to be alienated and disincentivized to be actively engaged in our communities and for those attitudes to cement for a lifetime. The media response and amplification of Parkland student organizing has been much more positive than other coverage of youth, but this needs to be sustained and we need to diversify youth voice in media.

 

Primarily, we’re listening and being curious about how local journalists think about teens and young adults:

  • How do your local media outlets currently engage with young people under 18?
  • How is your newsroom thinking about teen voices? What are your reactions to the benefits listed below?
  • How might youth inform your newsroom work? How might youth create media or experiences with your newsroom?
  • How might ONA Local chapters boost conversations with and about teen voices?

While there may be opportunity, those opportunities need to find mutual benefit. Additionally, how can youth voices be authentically represented and include teens that represent the diversity of a community? Here’s our first take on why thinking more deliberately about this intersection has many benefits:

Benefits to Local Journalism

  1. BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE: Many media outlets are looking to build younger audiences and building relationships is one way to do that.
  2. MORE REPRESENTATIVE CONTENT: Fresh content, diverse perspectives.
  3. BUILD TRUST: In a NeimanLab post, Ashley Woods wrote (and spoke at the fall ONA Local Summit) about the import of local journalism as a response to lower media trust,

“We will never be able to compete with the national news outlets on scale. So instead, we will acknowledge our strengths: proximity. Intimacy. Fidelity. We will combat fake news with an acronym: IRL. 2017 will be the year that you learn the names of your local journalists, because you will see and hear them everywhere you turn.”

Benefits to Youth

  1. SEEING OTHER YOUTH ENGAGED BUILDS A CULTURE OF ENGAGEMENT
  2. BROADER RANGE OF ISSUES AND PERSPECTIVES
  3. CHANGING NARRATIVES ABOUT YOUTH
  4. MEANING, SKILL AND NETWORK DEVELOPMENT
  5. MEDIA CREATION COMBATS CIVIC ALIENATION

Do you have responses to the above framework? Have you seen local media work with teens in a continuous way as sources or collaborators? (maybe not exclusively as a journalism pipeline?)