Knight Center
Knight Center


News needs to engage millenials or risks losing them: professor speaks of new book in live panel

Journalists need to find ways to make the news engaging for millenials — the generation born in the 1980s and the 1990s — or risk "living in a world where people are not informed," Prof. Paula Poindexter told a panel on HuffPost Live on Friday, Sept. 21.

"We need to re-think journalism," said Poindexter, author of "Millenials, News and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past?"

Her book argues that millenials consider the news to be repetitive, boring, lies, one-sided, propaganda, and garbage. It also contains 26 recommendations for covering and engaging people from this generation. Suggestions include highlighting news about millenials and using social media to reach these young people.

Poindexter said it's not unusual for younger generations to pay less attention to the news compared to their parents, but her research suggests a new development: "It looks like they are not going to pick up the news later in life." However, some panelists disagreed with the University of Texas at Austin journalism professor.

Joseph Mathewson, a professor at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, teaches millenials and he said "young people are more interested in news because it is more accessible" than in the days when one daily newspaper and three national news broadcasts kept people informed.

Young people on the panel said they and their friends turn to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for news and information.

"People would rather watch that than sit down for any CNN or Fox show," said Tim Griffin, a conservative blogger.

Chase Rosen, the social media editor at, acknowledged that making fun of the news is easier than reading a long, detailed news account of topics like health care reform or the war in Afghanistan.

But HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill noted that in order for millenials to "appreciate" the jokes on news satire programs like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report they must have some understanding of current events. Echoing Poindexter, Hill said the larger issue is "how can you be a good citizen if you don't keep up with what's going on?"

Although Mathewson had not read Poindexter's book, he called it "important" and also pointed out that if millenials don't feel like their voices are being heard, they have access to a multitude of media outlets. "You have more access to more media communications now than has ever existed in the world," he said.

Poindexter and her millenial daughter, Alexandra Wilson, produce a Facebook page called MillenGENews that aggregates news for and about millenials.


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