The name of the game in the current media landscape is convenience. Audiences gravitate toward the most convenient medium to receive their news. According to a study by the American Press Institute, this is not likely to change as the youngest Millennials have reached adulthood and their chosen press medium is decidedly digital. Additionally, according to psychologist Rick Breden in an article for The Street, Millennials are more prone to making decisions quickly, based on data because they are presented with more data daily than any generation before. As we shift into an era when Millennials have a large bearing on public decisions, such as elections and market trends, news publications will have to adapt as the technology evolves.
Millennial reading habits have sparked a conversation about at-a-glance journalism, wherein the reader gets all of the information they need from a quick glance at a story. With the release of the Apple Watch in 2015, this was widely discussed as the next big shift in journalism, according to an article from Stibo Accelerator.
However, smartwatches did not have quite the impact they were expected to in the media industry. As an article by Scott Stein in CNet points out, the Apple Watch did not sell as well as expected due to its high price and the fact that consumers did not feel it was a necessary piece of equipment. However, smartwatch enthusiasts make a good point, as at-a-glance journalism is very cohesive with the reading habits of Millennial readers. At-a-glance journalism displays information in a way that readers can take a quick look at the article of graphic and get all of the information they need. It focuses more heavily on alternative story formats and bulleted information to make information more quickly accessible. While smart watches may not be the device to make this type of reporting pervasive, it is a good example of how at-a-glance journalism can be applied to other devices.
This type of reporting has proven to be especially important in this election cycle. According to The Street article, Millennials have based much of their voting decisions on the short facts and quick data they can get from social media and other forms of glance journalism. Many interviewed in the article feel that they do not have the time to peruse a whole article to become fully informed on candidates and campaign activity. They want to get the quick summary, and to get on with their day.
The challenge for news publications will be figuring out how to engage Millennials with more traditional reporting and how to keep their readership and trust with glance journalism. It may not be possible for readers to be fully and effectively informed if they are only gathering news and information from glance pieces. However, glance journalism does provide readers a convenient way to gather base level information and to balance their busy lives while still maintaining awareness of the current issues and events. While smart watches may not play the role in glance journalism that some media experts once thought it would, the technological innovation did manage to draw attention to the importance that glance journalism is playing in the current media landscape.