Print Media Need To Change To Be Relevant To Teenagers

THURSDAY, 12 DECEMBER 2013 11:34

By Shahfizal Musa
Pix Shahiddan Saidi

BANGI , 2 Dec 2013 – The print news media has to change their content and how they present news if they want to retain young readers in the light of dwindling teenage readership.

Research findings made by two communication experts which was presented at a conference organised by The National University of Malaysia (UKM) here today found a drastic drop of teenage readership from 54% in 2008 to only 34% in 2011.

The trend is expected to continue if no action is taken to reign in the slide, the researchers Dr Akmar Hayati Ahmad Ghazali and Prof Madya Dr Siti Zubaidah from Universiti Putra Malaysia said in their paper presented at The International Conference on Media and Communication Transformation or MENTION.

The conference was organised by UKM and The Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

They said the generation T (technology and gadget) is more gadget driven instead of keeping themselves abreast with current issues.

They prefer to read postings on blogs, Facebook and Twitter as they found the writing style and content more to their liking.

The teenagers are also not attracted to hard news stories which they could not connect with. They prefer something light like short feature stories which do not require them to think very much.

Dr Akmar and Dr Siti Zubaidah suggested the print media to balance their content and presentation to cater to the needs of teenagers who are looking for news not only about entertainment but also knowledge presented in the right way.

They said the one thing that the print media is doing right is the way health issues are presented making them easy to read and understood. That is why health issues are the 4th most read items among 66.6% of the teenagers studied.

The study showed that what attracts teenagers to read newspapers are those that can act as stress relievers and make them feel less lonely.

After the emotional need comes the cognitive need to develop their minds with the least efforts. So articles that are both entertaining and informative get their vote.

However, Dr Akmar and Dr Siti Zubaidah said the print media is more focused on hard news about politics and economics issues. Yet teenagers, do not just want facts to make their own conclusions but also want to be entertained.

Thus entertainment news is the most read with all of them. This is followed by crime and sports news.

They want news or content that can help them escape from the stress of being a teenager, provide them with information that they can apply and articles that can move their emotions, personal development and social issues.

Dr Akmar and Dr Siti Zubaidah felt that the traditional print media will always be around but if they don’t change they’ll be like the lantern which used to be found in every house to keep it bright. But today though it is still around yet it is only used by campers and end up as collector’s item.