Session 4: Aha! Moments

The average age of the We Media audience dropped significantly when “The Content Creatives’ took the stage for the first panel discussion on Friday.  The discussion was supposed to pick up where Thursday night’s video presentation (outside under the stars) left off, helping the collective media brain trust in the audience understand what kinds of information ‘Generation Next’ wants to consume, and why.  It quickly became a census of sorts on the types of devices and habits that today’s information consumers employ.  I can personally relate to the panelists – multiple screens, numerous opportunities to share and consume information, the ever-present fear that information overload will fry my brain… and yet like them, I find energy and strength, and countless opportunities to learn and become engaged and empowered. 

Here are some of the other Aha! Moments from the discussion:

  • Do only old people use email? Cell phones are a more common way that ‘young people’ communicate with each other (email, IM, txt-ing).  They are constantly on the move and whatever technology will facilitate their communications… and give them access to ‘the crowd’ will be the one they want to use.
  • There are different forms of closeness within these communities.  The mode of communication is dictated, in part, by the emotional proximity of those involved.
  • What is your ‘digital aura’?
  • “It’s a little daunting to sort through all the user generated information that exists in our society.  I go to look for the hub, where there is some validation of what is more interesting (to me) than something else.”
  • There is a difference between work time and collaboration time.  We want both, but don’t always have time or energy to get both.
  • How much one is wired can be socio-economic… and NOT generational?
  • How do you define news?  One panelist said “information put into a format where people understand it,” while another noted that “I was taught to differentiate between news and editorial content” and now the time to produce editorial content has been compressed… “you can go from information/editorial almost instantly.” 
  • Where do you go for news?  The answers ranged from “I create it!” to “Local, cable networks (TV) (which they watch with their parents, or because their parents watch), “Maybe or similar,” and “YouTube has a wealth of political information; other information on the internet. Most importantly “I wouldn’t think of picking up a newspaper.”
  • How often?  “I used to have to watch the news – forced.  Eventually I realized that it was useful to find out interesting things.  I could help pass information along, help educate others (at my school, etc.).  That is my charge.”
  • When I look to become informed, I am looking to documentaries, to reports from the field that have bias.  It is impossible to separate content and context anymore.
  • Email = account = profile = network = function/purpose
  • “We do our own PR all the time”

It was hard to tell if the (older, adult) audience left this session informed, or terrified.  There is this underlying sense that media companies, news organizations, and similar have to find ways to push the Generation Next audience to their content.  I can imagine why that would be scary.  The message I got from this session: It would be easier… and more inviting to “young people” if you integrate information/media into the lifestyle choices that these folks are already making, instead of trying to create new devices (and costly ones at that) and forcing the audience to go in that direction.  The media should try to follow the lead of their audience and then jump in to make things better, not set the agenda and try to move the mountain to them.

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