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Looking ahead

In our interviews, we also asked this generation what they see coming, and how they would like the media to change.

One theme we heard was a desire that the crowded media marketplace would calm down, and that there would be less fear mongering — which interestingly is a theme scholars have identified in the digital landscape. “I’d like if the media in the next five years is actually stripped down and is more factual as opposed to sensationalized,” said Marwa, age 25 in Chicago. “I feel like the news creates so much drama for us, it creates so much fear instead of just saying, ‘okay, this is what happened.’”

We heard this in other cities as well. “[O]ne thing that I want to see change is that news is less sensationalist, and don’t use big buzzwords or click bait just to get a message out there that isn’t necessarily true or relevant,” said Connor, a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington.

Don’t use big buzzwords or click bait just to get a message out there that isn’t necessarily true or relevant.

“I want the news to find a balance. That’s my most important thing. I don’t want to turn on the news and just see nothing but negativity and you know, nothing but sadness,” said Sam, age 19 in San Francisco. “Like I found out the Richmond death rate or homicide rate has been the lowest in many years. I found that out from social media. I didn’t find that out from the news.”

For Sam, the professional news media seems to be straining for his attention so much he doubts that they would have even reported something that wasn’t negative or alarming. “The news wouldn’t tell you anything like that. The news would be quick to tell you, ‘okay, the homicide rate is up, that it’s the highest in five years.’”

Another theme we heard is a desire for the news media to be more of an arbiter of truthfulness and not just a carrier of potentially polarizing rhetoric or alarming allegations.

Marilu, age 29 from Chicago, was concerned not only with what some media outlets cover, but with what they ignore. “Some news stations need to grow up. And I say this because, when Obama made the announcement [about immigration], some news stations didn’t report it or they didn’t televise it. I feel like whether they agree with something or not, no matter what their political agenda is, this was the news [and they should cover it].”

No matter the type of media, Devon in San Francisco is waiting for journalists of his generation to come to the fore and speak in ways that are more relevant to him. “Find a way to make it different points of view. …. Bring in more people with a different opinion, like maybe a different age group that could reach a different audience. [B]ring somebody else along so that they can maybe [speak] to our age group.”

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