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The future of news is in safe hands

Updated: Feb 6

An interview with Noah Sproat (age 15):

This week we’ve had some extra help in the (virtual) office. Noah Sproat has joined us from his secondary school on work experience. He’s attended meetings, carried out research, reviewed papers (remember them?) and even sat in on a media training session, where he asked some very good questions.

We’re pretty sure he’s got something out of his time here. So, we wanted to get something out of him in the form of insight about how his generation consumes media. The top lines are that print isn’t dead (his family gets The Week Junior), but it probably will be soon. Social is everything, but brands that try to muscle in on trends are “cringey”. He might not read much journalism at the moment, but he’s sure that will change. So, the future of news is in safe hands.

Over to Noah!

Do you read news? If not, why?

I don't usually read the news. My younger sisters have a subscription to the Week Junior, which I occasionally look at, but it seems a bit childish to me. If there is something big happening, I’ll find out from people talking about it. Either through social media or my parents.

When I was younger, I was often scared of the news because there was always someone dying or something scary happening that I didn’t think I needed to know about. The fact that four people just got murdered in Brazil whilst collecting drug money is pretty depressing and doesn’t really affect my life. So why read it?

Do you watch or listen to news?

I don’t watch or listen to the news on the TV or radio as I use my phone to do everything. There’s no reason for me to use the radio if I can just access every song on Spotify and if I were to watch TV I would just put on Netflix as opposed to finding channels.

What social media do you use?

I use Instagram and YouTube. Most people in my year use TikTok too. Instagram is where I get news. The way I found out about the Russian war was a video of a soldier walking right next to an unexploded bomb. Not a big headline or anything, just an obscure video.

It would have been much less confusing to see a headline, but that video was shared much faster than an article could have been written. A lot of information about the situation in Palestine was recently shared all over Instagram with people ‘showing support’ by re-posting things on their stories. Although this is a nice message, many people did it for the sake of it to make themselves seem thoughtful. I don’t think that side of Instagram is very helpful.

Also, not much of the news is trustworthy. Lots of people exaggerate for more follows and views. Despite this, most people, including myself, still use it for the non-news posts like fashion, music and comedy.

YouTube has many news related channels that I often look at. They don’t show serious news though. It’s more like ‘funny moments in the Johnny Depp, Amber Heard case.’ It tends to be amusing videos that will get a lot of traffic as opposed to important information.

I can’t think of a single video I have watched that talks about what the Government has done recently unless it involves someone outside of politics like Marcus Rashford. It makes sense: the things they show are aimed at younger people; the things that they are entertained by. Because of this, it would be very unlikely to find a post on the decreasing value of the pound, for example.

I’ve never really been a fan of TikTok, but I know most of my friends use it a lot. And I mean a lot. Multiple hours a day. I don’t like it because there's a lot of privacy issues with it tracking almost everything you do outside of the app. It has overwhelmingly got nothing to do with news. It is for relatable videos and cringey dances. However, if there is something that younger people will find funny and relatable, it can be pushed out very easily and will get a lot of coverage.

For example, there were these putty balls that you could throw on to the ceiling that would stick for a while and then fall for you to catch – it aimed to reduce stress. The creators filmed themselves using them and it went viral. There was a link that led straight to their website on the video so people bought them and it became a craze. There is a lot of money to be made on TikTok if you have the right product and topic.

Lastly, most adults are shocked when I say this, but no one my age uses Facebook. Literally no one. I have an account because you can get rewards when you link it to game accounts, but I don’t use it ever. This might be because all our parents have accounts, so it doesn’t seem as cool, but whatever the reason, no one uses it!

How do you think companies might want to think about reaching people like you?

Many of my friends and I wouldn’t like to be targeted on social media unless the company is run by a young person. When companies start to get involved in trends it doesn’t seem as cool anymore. Nearly every time I see a company using memes to advertise their product, I find it very cringey like they don’t really understand, but are trying to be trendy.

I think that using social media is clearly a very useful way of reaching young people, but I think that companies should keep the tone of their posts authentic to their brand.

Do you think you’ll become more interested in news as you get older?

I think that when I get older, I’ll become much more interested in the news. When you’re very young you think that the world revolves around you because your life is all you know. As you get older, you learn more and more about other people, so I think that when I become an adult, I’ll be more interested.

Can you imagine what it will be like when you’re 25 and how you might read or see news then?

When I’m 25 I think I’ll read the news regularly on official news websites like The Guardian. I don’t think I’ll read a physical paper because by then it’ll be completely outdated. I’d be surprised if they’re still around. However, I think I’ll make the jump away from social media for news.


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