In my book teenage years are as crucial as childhood for personal development. The influences surrounding decisions made at this key stage can have profound influence on the course of life’s journey. For this reason WHYZ?, the new TV news channel and web-site for young people, would follow three core principles:
Firstly, avoid condescension at all costs. The youth market can be seen as an amorphous mass, neglecting to appreciate the vast diversity it contains. A broad range subjects need to be covered, appealing to people of different interests and abilities. So the exclusive about the latest boy band could run, but not at the expense of the interview with the young pianist of the year.
Secondly, to counter negative stereotyping the channel will endeavor to portray positive images of youth and provide positive role models. Young people can be a repository of progressive, critical and idealistic ideas that need voicing. The channel will help provide that voice.
And, thirdly, the channel will appeal to very different needs across the age group; there being a vast difference in the outlook of a thirteen year old as compared a nineteen year old.
Unapologetically regional and youth centric
As far as news stories go there will be no need to replicate the world of ‘adult news’ because that is already readily accessible. The channel should be unapologetically youth centered. So, instead of Westminster there would be stories about Youth Parliament, instead of Premier League football there would be youth team stories. As this channel is based in the UK there would need to be regional input from all areas to circumvent a London bias. This could be achieved by homeworking, but this has the downside of the team not being together. A central location has the downside of extensive travel requirements, though this could be ameliorated by employing people from different areas, giving each reporter a patch alongside a specialty and being aware of sourcing user generated content from across the regions.
Coverage would have music and entertainment high up the list as hooks, along with sport, science, IT & technology, health, environment, careers and youth related hard news issues such as unemployment & crime. In the story of youth unemployment the user content angle could be taken in the form of a video diary taken by someone leaving school and entering the job market.
Hard News stories could be covered employing the talents of the young people involved in the issue. Take the issue of domestic violence -as this happens in teenage relationships too! Provided with the emotional and practical support of sensitive adults the report could be narrated by a young person confronting the issue. The young person could interview key adult figures involved in tackling the problem in order to add potency and power to the questions raised.
Health coverage would need to be creative and courageous in covering the problems growing people encounter, from mental health and disability to contraception to abortion. These stories may have content warnings and would be sensitively selected to appeal across the age group.
A key element of the channel would be interactivity, so as well as reporters out and about getting stories there would be voting, social media driven links, sharing and screen scrolls of interactive conversations. The website would stay ahead with new social media developments and promote commenting.
The team would have a strong majority under thirty and all multi media trained. There would be senior staff in the background but it is essential that they would be of a youthful, open minded disposition. People would be assigned specialties but these would be highly flexible. A strong Team spirit is an essential ingredient.
1) Editor: Most experienced yet preferably still under 30!
2) Interactivity sub editor: Tracking social media and talking with the audience. Sourcing and
commissioning user content. Driving “sharing” and following trends. Very IT conversant.
3) Interactivity assistant. Full time job for a chatty extravert!
4) Passionate sports journalist
5) Experienced general news journalist.
6) Sociable and fun arts and entertainment journalist
7) Expert Science, IT and Environment journalist
8) Health media journalist
9) Roaming travel and adventure journalist.
10) “Style” journalist. Male and female fashions.
The website content would reflect the breadth of the TV channel and similarly be inclined to visual and audio output but not to the exclusion of text. The initial choice would be of short 1.5 minutes range video stories with minimal text. Options to click to “more” detail and to related stories would be provided underneath allowing the opportunity to dive deeper for those who want to. Additionally, there would be weekly documentaries of around half an hour on youth issues from around the country and the world.
All content would be highly shareable via current and developing social media including FB, Twitter and a YouTube channel. Music podcasts would be available in a separate section, designed to “play as you browse.”