Session: How to encourage young people -… 

Session: How to encourage young people – or anyone – to develop a news persona?

Renee Hobbs, Alison Payne, Lara Tewes, Jordan Eschler, Nancy Kranick, Andrew White
Leigh Montgomery, Moderator

The greatest opportunity and threat to the news is young people reading it. How are young people developing their persona in an era when it is personal, digital, and vast?

TA in the group – said students come to the computer lab, open their Facebook pages, and read the news their friends post. Discussion of whether they were posting responsible things or just for social currency. Some mentioned that many said that the first they had heard about the Japan earthquake was through Facebook. ‘Being first’ is important as far as posting information.

Discussed research of young people and what kind of news they liked – small sample but unsurprising, they liked sports, humor, and stories that gave ‘a sense of hope.’

Renee Hobbs thought this was like the Oprah effect and one reason why she is so admired. ‘What if news were a place of inspiration?.’

One participant mentioned her son, an avid video game enthusiast to the point where he wants to design games – but got very interested in sociology after a class in high school. Does truth, authenticity, ‘the real story,’ about ‘real lives’ matter the most?

Discussion about research skills lacking in students – as well as writing – that they’ve never written a five-page essay. What can be done to let them discover more of the news and bring them into the ‘news tent.?’

We discussed the power of stories and the magic in a well-told – or deeply personal, unique story. Getting people to the point where they feel comfortable to tell theirs is key.

Libraries are a neutral ground for this.

Conclusions:

Appreciating stories
Listening – as important as telling
Sharing your own story
Contribute to the conversation and bring others in – let them know they’re invited in. They might not otherwise know.