After reading a lot about the different generations and their media consumption habits, I have decided that I don’t really fit in with many of the traditional categories used by organizations like the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project.
Granted, I was born in 1976, and am a senior in college, so I did quite a few things out of order in my life, and this seems to be only one of a long line of things that my particular upbringing and life choices have put me out of step with what is expected of me by a system that looks at people as groups and tries to guess at what they will do. So, I wasn’t that surprised to find that I don’t fit with my age group, and I don’t fit with my peers in college.
What I did notice, is that I tend to be out of step in some ways that might just make me a little bit off beat enough to survive in the changing world that is today’s media landscape. I have heard of every news organization that Pew asked about, even though I don’t have a great deal of respect for a lot of the organizations that my age group seems to.
I am younger than most of the people Pew found to trust public broadcasting stations. I will admit that I didn’t know how relatively new public broadcasting was until they had an anniversary show. I have been listening to them since I was a toddler, and volunteering for radio fund-raising drives since before I turned 18.
At the same time, I not only know who Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show are, I am fluent in the way that they present news and humor together, and understand why my children (who are teenagers) trust that kind of news more than they trust the news from “click-bait” news sources that are often favorites with their friends.
Since my kids aren’t 18 yet, they are not yet part of a group that Pew is officially including in their studies, so I spent about 20 minutes asking them questions about what they look for in news, in a very unscientific way. We had a conversation.
(My children did not find this to be suspicious in any way, since conversations about news have been part of their lives since before they could talk. They did ask if it was for a school assignment, and want to be sure that they would get a link as soon as it went up.)
I suspect that there are more teenagers like them, who think that when a story is picked up by the Daily Show, and a public news station, that the story is most likely to be both true and relevant to their lives. Maybe when Pew gets around to including them I will find out that there are more parents who have raised kids like mine.
Or maybe I will find out that I have raised kids who are as out of step with their peers as I am with mine. After all, none of my kids thought that seeing a story on Facebook was likely to make it worth reading.