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Lee Abrams, TouchVision: Why The Time Is Right To Re-Invent News

Lee Abrams  Co-Founder, Chief Content Officer  TouchVision

Lee Abrams
Co-Founder, Chief Content Officer

Guest post from TouchVision’s Lee Abrams

To the casual observer there is a sudden, somewhat inexplicable, rush to reinvent the way news is presented, with a goal of attracting younger folks who grew up digital. In this growing field are VICE, Fusion; NOW THIS NEWS;; and my own TouchVision Network.  The simplistic answer is that the folks who access traditional news such as news-papers, cable and network TV, are rapidly aging while Millennials have simply tuned out all of them. The truth, as always, is far more complex, and revolves around a convergence of trends that point to a “new age of news.”

First, let’s look at some indisputable numbers:

In September 2012, Pew found that while only 6% of respondents in the 18-24 bracket said they had read a newspaper in the previous day, but that 48% of those over the age of 65 had. Last year, 28% of adults aged 18-24 got news from the Internet only, while 29% said they consumed no news at all—higher percentages than for any other age group, according to Pew.

OK, astounding glimpse into the obvious, Millennials don’t watch TV news or read newspapers because they are all about online and mobile. Right? Only partly. Only 9% of Americans get news through the internet and mobile technology without also using traditional sources. Among the public, 15% regularly get news on a cell phone or another mobile handheld device, up from 9% two years ago. About three-in-ten (28%) mobile internet users say they regularly get news from one of these devices, which is virtually unchanged from 2010 (27%). Pew says more than a third (36%) of Americans say they get news from both digital and traditional sources, just shy of the number who relied solely on traditional sources (39%). Online and mobile news consumers spent 40 minutes on average with news online, and just 30% spent an hour or more.

In short, instead of totally replacing traditional news platforms, Americans are increasingly integrating new technologies into their news consumption habits. But Millennials apparently don’t have much of a news “habit” at all. This is where the opportunity lies to reinvent the news.

We’re at an historic media crossroad where stunning new technology meets a new mainstream of Americans meets a remarkable opportunity in storytelling possibilities.  In some respects  News and Information is the new Rock n Roll,  in terms of what is driving culture.  Decades ago it was the power of music and the sound generating devices of the time.  In 2014 it’s the power of information with the screen based devices of this time.  As The Beatles created music for the stereo revolution, there is an opportunity to deliver information for the screen revolution.

The new reality of social media is obvious.  Less obvious are the presentation values.  The new mainstream has embraced the 3D magic of Avatar.  Ear buds and surround sound are a way of life as is a keen BS detector in today’s over commercialized environment.  Critical to new forces in news and information is to meet the presentation standard of today and creating content that powers the eyes, ears and imaginations of viewers.  At TouchVision,  we refer to this as News MOVIES rather than News CASTS.  Where it’s more about Transporting than Reporting.  Transporting viewers TO the story rather than the Newsroom

Answers in reaching the audience perched between Miley Cyrus silly and Old School Traditional lies in a captivating NEW style.  One that busts clichés and reimagines every aspect of the presentation.  A position where credible journalism merges with intense creative for a tour de force of learning … Aggressively challenging the playbook and helping people make sense of a world experiencing a nervous breakdown,  rather than feeding it with vitriol and “cuteness.”  Answers lie in noticeable change vs. simply tweaking a dated style that fails to resonate with our new mainstream.

There are revolutions in food, military, film and transportation.  And now it is the time for revolution in content presentation.  Gil Scott Heron wrote what may have been the first rap song in 1970-The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.  I believe he was wrong.

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