Let’s face it, if teenagers are given the choice of watching Eastenders, Big Brother, Tracey Beakeror the news, I would guarantee that a low percentage would choose the news.
Teenagers are generally disengaged and uninterested in the news. The 2010 general election turnout statistics (UK Political Info) suggests that as a nation we are less
engaged in politics and the running of the country. Viewing figures also suggest that teenagers are switching off news programmes. In 2009 the BBC’s flagship news programme, Newsround saw a long-term decrease in viewers, this data suggests that traditional media (television, radio and newspapers) is failing to engage and attract teenage audiences.
WATSUP is an innovative news channel, aimed at making teenagers aged 13-19 more politically, socially and culturally engaged about the day to day news and long-term issues facing the United Kingdom and the world. It is important that news about the environment, education, government, technology and sport are featured as these topics are in the interest of this age group.
Unlike its competitors, WATSUP will interact with teens on multiple platforms, including television, online and social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter and Flickr are essential to the success of WATSUP. Social networking sites are a popular forum for teens and it is important for news programmes to immerse with these sites in order to communicate and share opinions and ideas with the WATSUP team, friends and other users. Social networking sites will also help advertise WATSUP by increasing site statistics, traffic to the site and viewing figures for the news television channel.
WATSUP will have its own app which is free for all who have access to a smart phone. The app will give hourly news updates and will link into the WATSUP website.
The television channel will feature hourly news bulletins throughout the day and one 30 minute news programme at 5.30pm. The channel will be in direct competition with BBC Newsround.
The WATSUP channel will feature the day’s main news headlines and will have a range of news packages and interviews which directly address what the repercussions are for this age group. The style, language and selection of news will be designed to appeal and make the news accessible to this demographic.
The WATSUP website will give audiences the opportunity to have their own say and engage with the news. Polls, quizzes, comment sections will be on news pages and will be linked up to social network sites. This will enable audiences to share, link and like news pages, research by the Media Management Centre (2008) indicates that teens will only read the news if it catches their eye, engaging with social networking sites and phone apps will allow teens to quickly digest the news and access the news quickly.
The website will also give audiences the opportunity to upload their own photo and user generated content (UGC).
The WATSUP blog will be part of the website. Each day the web and interactive editor will select a news story from that day and write a 500 word blog which outlines the key facts and arguments. At the bottom of the post readers will be invited to vote on a poll and write a comment about the blog. The results from the blog and a selection of the comments will be broadcasted on the WATSUP news channel.
The WATSUP team
In order to make WATSUP run efficiently and dynamically ten journalists would need to be appointed. Their roles would be;
The editor-in-chief will control the television channel, website and blog. They will have editorial control and strong news values and will work with the producer to decide on running orders for the news channel and will work directly with the news, interactive, multi-media and web editor.
2. News Editor
The News editor will oversee the news desk and will be in charge of what news stories to cover on the news channel and the website that will appeal to this target age group.
3. Web and Interactive Editor
This role is incredibly important, they will control the website, this includes content, layout, and encouraging participation. A Facebook, Twitter and Flicker account will be set up and polls, quizzes, competitions will be set up on a daily basis.
4. Multi-Media Editor
The multi-media editor will be in control of the audio and video footage and UGC uploaded onto the website. They will work directly with the interactive editor to maintain and update social networking sites.
5. x2 Sub Editor
Two sub editors are needed to edit the news scripts for the television channel and the news articles for the WATSUP website. This involves checking the copy for spelling mistakes and re-writing the copy if needed. The sub editors will also be responsible for writing the headlines and photograph captions.
6. x4 Broadcast Journalists
The four broadcast journalists will be responsible for going out and interviewing, building up contacts, attending events and writing accurate and concise copy. The journalists will be gathering news for all three news platforms so will need to be dynamic and multi-skilled.