By ALEX TEKIP
“Millennial” is a buzzword frequently used in today’s ever-changing world of sports media.
One of the AWSM conference breakout sessions on Monday, called “The Future of Journalism: Appealing to the Millennials,” was a discussion on how to use new-media platforms to garner the attention of the growing millennial audience, as well as the challenges and advantages of being a millennial.
Noreen Gillespie, a deputy sports editor with the Associated Press, moderated the session, made up of panelists Ashley Colley of the University of Missouri, Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post and Sarah Kogod of SB Nation.
To discuss being a millennial, the panel first had to define millennial. This proved to be a more difficult task than expected.
A concrete definition was not established, but general consensus was that most millennials were born in the late 1980s or early 1990s and have a strong understanding of how to adapt to changing digital trends.
The panelists agreed that millennials are often perceived as entitled and lazy, which leads hiring managers and sports directors or editors to view being a millennial as a weakness.
“In a lot of newsrooms, especially more traditional ones, youth is seen as inexperience instead of an asset,” said Kogod, a senior content producer at SB Nation.
Kogod and Colley pointed out that editors and sports directors who were not raised in the digital age might not have the same set of skills or knowledge as the younger crowd just entering the job market. Both said that this could lead to a mutually beneficial relationship where the two parties learn from each other.
“It’s using those skills to try and strengthen your newsroom. You’re like ‘yeah I’m a millennial, I know Twitter, I know Facebook, I know Snapchat,’ ” said Colley, the communications secretary for AWSM@Missouri. “But it’s trying to teach the older generation how to use it or why they need to use it.”
Millennials generally do not actively seek out news, but instead stumble upon it on social media sites, such as Twitter.
“When you look at journalism today, Twitter is my life,” said Hochman, a columnist at the Denver Post. “I think it’s everybody’s life, and I think we kind of associate Twitter with the millennials.”
Hochman said he references pop culture in order to connect with the millennial audience and grow his brand. This keeps the conversation going.
“I can’t get enough of the idea, we now, and it’s very narcissistic, but we now are brand. Like, each one of you is a brand for whatever you cover, whatever you do, and it’s about promoting it,” Hochman said.
Colley said millennials are visual people and want to see information presented in a unique way.
“We are very visual, we want more information,” she said. “So if you can put a picture, a tweet, a vine, anything into your stories, we’re probably doing to be more willing to click on your stuff compared to someone else’s.”
All panelists agreed the infinite amount of space on the Internet has completely changed the dynamic of media and that reminded those in the audience to remember that although targeting millennials should be a huge focus, it shouldn’t be the only focus.
“If we focus too much on reaching millennials, or reaching whatever the next is, or reaching Gen X, I think we’re alienating a large portion of our audience,” Kogod said.