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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
young readers PANPA Bulletin August-September 2007 47 With a plethora of information available free on the internet, we do not think we should pay for it in a printable form. A red flag flies up when we are online and are asked to pay for information. "Unlike our parents, we are not a private generation. We are the Big Brother generation where almost everything is on-show, and has to be on-show if it is to have real value and utility. "While we don't like to give our details to marketing firms for fear of attacks from spam and phone calls, we don't mind giving information out if it will benefit us. In this sense, private information has become a new currency of exchange: we don't mind giving it out if we get something back -- par- ticularly if it's free. "This concept underpins our design of what we believe to be the newspaper of the future." Newspaper of the future: the model The model the students proposed to capture the elusive attention of Gen Y is an online based, advertising funded, mul- tifunctional news and personal service portal. In other words, it's a modern day news- paper website merged with elements of myspace, Wikipedia, YouTube, Whereis, online banking, and more. It represents the transition of journalists from 'gatekeepers' of information to 'gate- ways', with short, sharp articles contain- ing links to multimedia and background information, both of which would often be user-generated content. The site would be flexible and personal- ised, with the information entered forming an individual account, which directly affects what sort of content that person receives. And therein lies the financial driver. News would be tailored to the user, but so would advertising. Target markets would be more defined and the news site would be able to take the niche advertisers that magazines cur- rently enjoy by segregating their reader- ship, and selling the 'same' space over and over again. The students continued: "Our internet portal, a convergence of online habits, would be designed to be our 'home' on the web -- a convenient site where we can easily access our news, email, banking, weather, mobile messages, and social networking. "While similar examples exist on the web today, we propose newspapers host this portal, as they have something unique -- our trust and brand loyalty when it comes to news content. "However, this service would need to be free -- we would not pay for news or email from The Herald when we could get it free from Google. The trade off is advertising. In order to access the service, one would sign up, specifying the news content they're interested in, which also dictates the advertising that would be targeted at their site. "This is something generation Y consid- ers a fair trade off. Gen Y aren't afraid to give you personal information... as long as it they know it will benefit them. "Brand loyalty is not the only factor that could be used to increase the popularity of this product. We would sign up because we would have to, if we wanted to stay in the loop. "Our friends would all have it, com- municate with it, tag news for each other on it, and like myspace, it would spread throughout our tribal friendship groups virally. Sprawling social online networks are an untapped opportunity to spread news." As a Gen Y myself, it was interesting to see and hear the response from the audience at this session. Questions fired from the delegates suggested a level of collective resistance to this concept, and some succeeded in shooting holes in its viability. But it was never intended as a be-all- and-end-all solution, merely a possible variation that would best cater to a specific target -- Gen Y -- based on the imagination and feelings of the creative young minds belonging to this emerging era. The students didn't necessarily suggest that there was no place left for a printed ver- sion, or that other segments with different news values might not be willing to pay for content that Gen Y would not. But maybe this model seems a lot more believable to me because, unlike the major- ity of delegates in the audience, I don't breathe the daily conventions of newspaper print runs or circulation revenue. Whether it is embraced or not, there is no doubt this concept left a lasting impres- sion on PANPA 2007. Charles Sturt University journalism students: (Left-right) Lucinda Carter, David McCowen, Emma Partridge, Louisa Rust and Victoria Ziarkowski