RYAN C. TUCK: Local Teens Debut Their Own Page in The Pilot
Check out Tuck's Blog
Have u hrd of the nu section n da Pilot?
It's gonna B awzome. Were hopin it will b the nu thang in da county.
Chk it out.
One day, printed messages might look like that.
The Pilot is preparing a new teen-focused section, which will debut soon. It will run every other Sunday and will feature news, notes and commentary from teenagers across the county. This will look, feel and read very differently from the rest of The Pilot. The section will be teen-run and teen-approved, sort of.
We are developing this feature in the hope that it will unify the younger readers of the area. We hope that you will check it out, as well as our teen-run blog at thepilot.com.
Increasingly, we are communicating in new and diverse ways. As always, the younger generations are leading the way in most of these new forays.
"Want 2 grab lunch?"
No longer a question in the hallways, it's a text message kids send each other between classes.
And calls on cell phones?!? Those are so 1999. MySpace.com message boards are the new way to plan your weekend and get in touch with your friends.
And AOL Instant Messenger? Please. You might as well swap stone tablets.
I've been making the rounds to area high schools in spreading the word about our work online -- the world teenagers know best -- and the new teen section.
While each school and youth are different, here's a rough transcript of our conversations:
"How many of you read newspapers?"
"How many of you read newspaper Web sites?"
Uncomfortable shifting and a few murmurs.
"How many of you MySpace?"
The hands shoot up.
And these are the readers of the future. The newspaper industry must take heed of these habits.
Sure, they're still around, but "E-libraries" are cropping up at university campuses across the globe. You can access entire chapters online, even thumbing through pages with a Flash-based tool that makes it seem oh-so-traditional.
What does that mean for newspapers? While I don't have the answers, I know that readers of the future are paying our traditional product less and less attention. We have to hook them somehow.
At The Pilot, that's where this section comes into play. That's where podcasts, blogs and message boards at thepilot.com come into play.
That's why streaming news is becoming so popular.
It's news for the ADD-generation.
Jacks of all trades but masters of none, readers of the future want to feel engaged. To them, a newspaper is too sterile, too inactive. They want to interact with their news.
So how do we get there? When you don't have an answer, ask questions. Go straight to the source.
Without figuring out the global problem of newspaper readership, we can start in Moore County by giving the youth a microphone for their all-too-quiet voice.
People always are more interested in what they're involved in. Want them to read something? Put their name in it. Quote them. Put their picture next to it.
But once all the area's refrigerators are exhausted, what then? Get them involved in the process. Get them intrinsically tied to your products. Start a blog with them. Get them to write for you. Get them to bring their friends in.
The Pilot -- and its fellow newspapers -- have a way to go to engage their readerships of tomorrow, but, at the very least, to quote the Nirvana classic, it's starting to smell like teen spirit in Moore County.
Contact Ryan Tuck at 693-2507 or by e-mail at ryan@thepilot. com.
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