Posted at 1:29 PM on March 31, 2009
by Sanden Totten
Let's start with a big scary statistic:
"According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, the proportion of young people getting no news on a typical day has increased from 25 to 34 percent since 1998" (emphasis is mine).
Okay, now let's talk about a solution. The Minnesota Daily has teamed up with U of M researchers and the Seattle-based NewsCloud website to figure out how to get these newsless young 'uns to become NY Times and BBC junkies like the rest of us.
Since were talking about 18 to 20 somethings . . . the plan obviously involves Facebook. What else could young people possibly care about? Believe me, if they could find a way to work in Judd Apatow, Twilight and text messaging, I'm sure they would have.
What you are looking at is actually a giant Facebook book application (find it here). It allows users to read articles, comment and even post their own news stories. How do they get them to do it?
The more you comment, the more you share, the more points you get. Just like with the Kool-aid points or Camel bucks of yore, these points can be turned in for sweet swag. That MN Daily mouse pad is as good as mine! And the hope is that one day, even advertisers can get in on this action:
"Media groups with such applications could work with business to post challenges to the users that they would gain points for, such as visiting a business' Website or attending a restaurant's happy hour, resulting in direct business to the advertisers."
This idea has a lot going for it. First off, as we've found with our page, Facebook is a great way to integrate your content into people's everyday lives. It's also a really slick looking app. I say "looking" because it doesn't actually work yet. Click an article and you get blank space. Try posting something and you get automatically logged in as "Jesse Heitke." But if it works like it looks like it should, this could be a powerful page.
But is rewarding folks for getting involved with the news setting a good example? Could this lead to sites with the best prizes getting the most page views? And something seems fishy about media organizations giving you stuff for checking out their sponsors.
Speaking with Rex Sorgatz yesterday about media trends on the web, he said it's not that on-line audiences are dumber or less inclined to get deep and informative news than old media consumers. They just need to have it offered up in a way that fits their pattern of consumption. I'm guessing the same goes for young people. And as soon as I get my MN Daily account back from this mysterious Jesse Heitke, I'll dig a little deeper into the page and see if it's a step in that direction.
Could this be the mysterious Jesse Heitke?
Rewarding folks for getting involved in news. Not like tote bags, coffee mugs and Car Talk CDs rewarding folks for getting involved in public radio.
Fred, I see your point, public radio does offer incentives to members.
But I think there is a big difference here. Namely, that public radio offers incentives for people who donate money. They never give incentives to people just for consuming the news. For instance, you can listen to NPR 24/7, share stories you hear with friends and even be a source in a story, but you'll never see one thread of a tote bag unless you donate money.
That's what makes what the MN Daily is doing so different. They are not giving incentives to reward donations. They are giving incentives to reward consuming the news in the first place. It's an interesting experiment, we'll see how it works out.
Oh, and their Facebook page seems to be up and running now. Go ahead and give it a shot: http://apps.facebook.com/mndaily/
But be warned, you'll discover, as I did, that only those aged 16-25 can redeem their points for prizes.
Well considering I'm Jesse Heitke, this is awkward. I think I looked at the Mn Daily facebook app once for about 10 seconds. I have about as much clue as you as to what's going on.
Hey Jesse, nice to finally meet you!
It seems the app works now, but for a few hours yesterday every time any of us here at MPR tried logging in to share a story it auto-filled our info as Jesse Heitke. I thought maybe you had designed the app.
Seems to be working fine -- and I've got a ton of points in just a week! It tells me that I've even got enough for a pair of lower-deck Twins tickets!
Ha ha no I didn't design it or anything. Yay for glitches, apparently. I was just concerned when a friend of mine texted me saying I was mentioned on the MPR site! I didn't know what I had done to become news-worthy :)
The data gremlins strike again.