Teenagers are one of the most important consumers of media. They are tech savvy and are not afraid to embrace change. However, experts note that news channels and newspapers are losing popularity amongst youngsters. In my opinion, this is because the media organisations have not been able to completely understand teenage audience. In the Indian context, the number of youngsters is increasing. According to records, 30 per cent of Indian population are youth. More importantly the current generation is more urbanised and better educated than previous ones. It is at this juncture that we have to rethink our models of news channels for teenagers.
It is important to consider teenagers as a separate group because their interests and perspectives are different from other sections of the society. Hence I propose an English news channel for the Indian teenage audience called Identiteens. English is the only language that can reach the length and breadth of the country and hence it is ideal. The channel would air news that cater to the concerns of young people, while at the same time connecting it to the broader news spectrum. For example, the economic growth of the country may not interest youngsters in terms of GDP numbers. However, it might interest them in to know about the reason for increase of prices of the products they consume.
The channel would also include new trends in technology, fashion and culture. Since most teenage audience in the country are either in school or college, news related to academic matters would be included as well. Sports news would be of interest too. Lifestyle news and celebrity news should be included, however, it is important to comply with the regulations on broadcasting to teenage audience. It is also important to have news analysis shows that include teenagers in the discussions. Discussions that have authorities and opinion leaders along with teenagers from different parts of the country would be ideal. This way, the target audience would feel that their views and ideas are being heard and not dismissed because of their age.
The ten journalists would be assigned different roles. The most important part of a news channel is the news itself. Thus three people would be sent as reporters and three people as camera persons with them. Along with video footages, they will also be expected to provide a text version of the story for the web. The three teams would be given different patches to specialise.
One person would be assigned for online content. He will be responsible to ensure the quality of website. A production editor would control video, audio and photo editing. News editor would be in charge of the selection and suggestions of stories. He will also be in charge of social media and its interaction. News editor and online editor will together decide the various modes of news presentation on the web.
The online content would include text stories of 600 to 800 word length. The attention span of today’s teenagers is not as long as seniors and hence it is important that the stories are written in a compelling and engaging format. It is important to understand the teen jargon and the reporters will be expected to know the various slangs used. Urbandictionary.com is a good website for reference for the reporters.
Videos of the stories will accompany this, in order to provide the much required visual appeal. Photo blogs with audio background scores/narratives and audio podcasts will be used as well. For topics such as fashion and trends, photo blogs would be of good use.
The costumes and merchandise used should reflect a sense of informality. This would create a likeable atmosphere for teenagers. Needless to say the journalists who present the news should be in their late teens so that the audience can relate to them.
The use of social media is going to be crucial in the success of this channel. According to Institute for Public Policy Research, youngsters spend more than 20 hours a week online. This means a majority of their free time is taken up by the internet. Since social networking sites like Facebook and video sites like YouTube take up a vast chunk of this time, it is important that the channel creates a strong presence through these sites online. But it does not end with traditional web. The content should be available for mobile phones and tablet computers. Indian teens are said to be spending around 1.6 hours on phone daily. As this can be expected to increase, there is a growing need to connect with the teens at the mobile level.
The editor would be in charge of coordinating the whole operation and making sure the content meets the criteria for the audience. Apart from the broadcast and online activities, it is important that the channel also reaches out to the audience off the screen. Collaborating with colleges to produce teenage oriented content will facilitate more interest among teens. If the above plans are followed to its perfection, I am sure it is a good business model in the country.
Main Image: Adapted from Flickr.