Generation Z (Gen-Z), the cohort born between 1997 and 2012, is a sizable demographic. There are millions of people between the ages of 9 and 24 in Canada alone. Many of them consume news, though a little differently from previous generations. And like any generation, they ignore content that doesn’t appeal to them. So, how do you write stores that interest to them?
Give it Context
Conventional news formatting can be overwhelming, unsettling, or just uninteresting for Gen-Z. Most news outlets are too loud or provide little insight. Additionally, they don’t provide enough context to appeal to younger readers.
Remember, Gen-Z hasn’t been around as long as previous generations. The stories they read may be their first exposure to a subject.
For instances of how to give context to Gen-Z readers, look up a news source like Canada News Media. They walk young and curious audiences through complex subjects like politics, policy, business, pop culture, technology, science, health, and sport by giving them relevant information.
Don’t Underestimate Them
While giving Gen-Z context essential, it’s also important to not underestimate them. They may need more patience because of their inexperience, but they’re highly intelligent and educated. In fact, according to Stats Can, Gen-Z, alongside millennials, are more educated than previous generations.
Gen-Z can also recognize pandering. So, don’t dumb down the content and avoid using catchphrases that you think they use. Make your stories clearer and easier to consume without removing any value.
Unlike previous generations, Gen-Z is more exposed to gender, ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity. In fact, the Pew Research Center says that Gen-Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse group so far.
Write stories that leverage diversity to appeal to them. For example, when writing about the Bank of Canada raising interest rates, talk about how it may impact different demographics across the country instead of just the conventional ones. Or, when writing about COVID-19 vaccination rates in Ontario, discuss how racialized groups are less likely to get the jab.
Use Their Attention Span
Between Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, there is so much media trying to grab a young user’s attention that the average Gen-Z switches between 5 screens at a time, giving one story an average of only eight seconds. In other words, you only have a few seconds to grab a Gen-Z consumer’s attention.
Gen-Z readers are also pretty savvy and can recognize fake news and clickbait more easily than some older cohorts.
This means writing high-quality snappy, and informative headlines that avoid sensationalism and lure Gen-Z readers into the context. It also means thinking outside the box. Instead of words, consider using pictures, graphics, and even infographics to relate a story.
Hire Gen-Z Writers
As an editor, one of the best ways you can develop stories for younger people is to have Gen-Z writers write them. Stories by talented Gen-Z writers will be more authentic. And if you’re a writer, consult with smart Gen-Z people in your life. Have them critique your work to gain insights.
Undoubtedly, Generation Z consumes news in a unique way. Stories that appeal to them should be clear, entertaining, and offer the right context.
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