The numbers tell a story on their own. An estimated 98 percent of college students own some kind of digital device, according to a 2011 CourseSmart survey. Of those students surveyed, 38% admitted they couldn’t go more than 10 minutes without checking in on a tech device.
As an MSU Denver student, I can attest – we are more connected than ever. When we’re not on our laptops, we’re on our smartphones, checking Facebook statuses or surfing the Web. So with everything going digital, how does the news industry, for years tied to print and television schedules, keep up?
The New York Times has a business model that has adapted along with its audience. They do offer online content, but many of their articles cannot be fully accessed online. You want to read the full article? Pick up a print copy, or purchase an online subscription. These digital formats also allow students to more easily share what they’re reading, and make news gathering a social event. This inspires conversation about current events, and increases readership numbers.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have also revolutionized how students get their news. By “liking” or “following” a news source, featured articles will simply pop up in your feed, and it makes the news feel more personal and interactive, engaging us on a deeper level.
Metro Student Media has been focusing on interacting more with the students that we serve through our Web-first philosophy. We want our readers, listeners and viewers to be able to see a story develop as it’s happening. We want them to look forward to a more in-depth product in print or broadcast. We love seeing conversations happen on our Facebook walls after we share a story. We get happy when students suggest stories to us through our social media outlets or online news tip form. Each day, we search our pages for comments and questions that we can follow up on. And our team spent a lot time creating new digital and multimedia advertising options for our clients, which debuted last year.
Making the news digital and social allows Student Media to improve our services, and pushes us to produce higher quality reporting and design. If we hope to stay in the communications business after we graduate, it’s essential to practice and learn these 21st century skills now. Lucky for us, we have a laboratory where we can do exactly that.