It’s a common complaint from college journalism professors: Their students, who say they want to be journalists, don’t actually follow the news. They’re on Facebook and YouTube all the time, says Michigan State’s Bob Gould, but even his broadcast journalism students don’t watch television news. And despite their connectedness, many of them somehow managed to be blissfully unaware of stories that the rest of us couldn’t miss, like the “balloon boy” incident last fall.
“What do we have to do to get students interested in news?” Gould asks in a column for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters newsletter.
His answer? Get back to creative visual storytelling.
Great stories stand out among the clutter. Just because the delivery method has changed doesn’t mean we have to give up our core journalistic values and the ability to tell great stories — stories that affect people and the lives that we live.
But would that be enough to attract younger viewers to news? I’d say probably not, if we’re talking about traditional TV news programs. Great stories are being done now, just not very often, so they’re lost in all that clutter. I can’t envision that balance changing dramatically enough to make a real difference.
On the other hand, individual videos already do attract younger viewers when they’re available where those viewers are–on YouTube, for example–and when it’s easy to share them with others. The question is whether those videos could be the kinds of well-crafted news stories Gould is talking about or whether they’re more likely to be the raw, “you gotta see this” footage that tends to go viral now.