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News study focuses on delivery

Young adults want news on demand, 24/7

AMSTERDAM — A study by the University of Amsterdam has found teens and young adults — who as a group in many territories watch little news on the whole — have nothing against news, but plenty against how it is delivered.

The study of 450 young Dutch adults between 15 and 25, carried out by Irene Costera-Meijer, was commissioned by NOS, the main news broadcaster in the Netherlands.

The study found young adults want to watch news for the same reasons their parents do — to get information — but they don’t want it delivered the same way.

The research was unveiled Thursday during a seminar on teen programming at the Cinekid film, TV and multimedia fest that ends here Sunday.

Unlike older adults, the 15- to 25-year-olds don’t find zapping boring but rather, and in the best sense of the word, they find it a “hyperactive experience.” Costera-Meijer noted the study also found kids today naturally multitask, but it does not hinder their focus “when they want to focus.”

Teens and young adults want news on demand, 24/7, and they want it delivered two ways, as snack news bites or as slow news. Snack news bites need to be short and spontaneous items that are alive with good imagery. Slow news includes news that has depth, vision and, above all, good imagery.

Costera-Meijer, a senior associate professor of media at the university’s School of Communication & Research, said unlike their parents’ generation, kids don’t want news that is delivered by someone trying to be objective or neutral. They want presenters to show they are in touch with and identify with their audience, to some degree emotionally as well.

Says Costera-Meijer, “They are also very much aware that they live in a multicultural world and they want the news to reflect that. That means stories about black and white, employed and nonemployed, both genders.”

Another seminar on kids programming in Morocco took a wider brief when panelist Lou Murrin, head of acquisitions for the just-launched Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel, gave a rundown of what she can and can’t buy.

“When I’m buying, especially western European programming, I don’t really think about religion. It’s not really an issue, but nudity is. Some programs I’ve seen are beautiful and very appropriate for European audiences, but not for Arabic children,” she added.

Murrin works for Lagardere Images Intl., the French-based group brought in by the Quatar Foundation to study the feasibility of the channel, then launch and manage it.

The channel launched Sept. 9 with a reach that includes most of the Arab-speaking Middle East, Northern Africa and Arab-speaking community in Europe. While it gets some funds from the pan-Arab news agency Al-Jazeera, Murrin said the majority of the funds come from the nonprofit Quatar Foundation set up by the Emir of Quatar.

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