Friday, February 17, 2006

Y Kant Yung Peple Rede?

To try to save the newspaper industry, publishers are staking their businesses on what would seem to be an unlikely prospect -- the idea that young people, who for years have been ditching newsprint, will come back to the paper if they're given something that can compete with today's flashy media. That's the thinking behind these youth papers, which eschew news -- relegating all serious national and international coverage to a handful of small wire reports -- and instead focus on sensational local stories, pop culture, sports, and lifestyle features. Brevity is the soul of niche; these papers speed along with rat-a-tat prose and magazine-style photo spreads that would make a travel brochure for Guam look long-winded in comparison.

For all their apparent flaws, many publishers report that these niche publications have succeeded in attracting young readers and new advertisers. As a 27-year-old male, I'm squarely in these papers' line of sight, and I should take comfort in their attempts to attract people like me. But what hooked me on newspapers more than a decade ago wasn't the absence of news, it was the very fullness of it -- the daily chaos and complexity of human affairs neatly organized in ink on the page.

Today, newspapers still have the power to seduce people who find a thrill in following current affairs, and at least one innovative publisher is finding ways to do that by transforming newspapers into multimedia presentations. But after spending time reading some of the new niche papers, I can only regard their impending ubiquity with something like sheer fright.

Apparently, the rest of my generation is really, really stupid.

Go here and find out. (You'll need to watch an ad. It IS at a liberal opinion magazine, but the story itself features no liberal think-tank-ology or anything like that.)

So are we really that dumb? Are my friends just a non-representative sample?


Anonymous said...

Forgive me, but aren't you only 25?

Todd VanDerWerff said...


But that's sort of the point of what I'm saying. The people I know in their 20s are all pretty sharp about the world around them. But the studies cited in this article indicate otherwise.

So I guess my friends aren't a very good sample.