Youth: Twitter’s In, Facebook Waning

An impromtu survey of my College of St. Rose class revealed young people felt Facebook was past its prime. Seems the teen research backs it up. A Pew study released in May on social media showed teens feel a “waning enthusiasm for Facebook.” Too many adults are on it, especially their parents, for their liking and they seek to avoid the “stressful drama.” Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg admits they are not trying to be cool. Most young people still remain on Facebook, but Twitter and Instagram are viewed as much hotter commodities.

Note the irony. Facebook started out as a hip, new way for college students to communicate. But teen Twitter use jumped 50% from 2011 to 2013, according to the Pew study.

Young people have always wanted their own space so Facebook’s success attracting their parents has been a turnoff. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for Facebook. Their parents have a lot more money than their kids and Facebook advertisers would like to get a chuck of it.

The generation gap is also about habits. Adults may wait to late evening to catch up on Facebook. The young are texting all day long. “Catching up” is measured in minutes.

So while the pace of technology is burning up, take some comfort in knowing some things never change — teens don’t like hanging out with their parents.

The writer is an adjunct media professor and runs a communications and speaking coaching business.




The Hurricane and the New State of Journalism

Hurricane Irene blew one final nail into the coffin of “traditional” news media. Facebook is now its own news network. The real challenge now is how artfully traditional media blends social media into their new way of doing things. Adapt well or perish.

Despite the storm, our local Sunday newspaper still got delivered in the early morning hours. As it sat there in our driveway, pelted by sheets of rain, it was a drowning dinosaur. The storm news it contained was already outdated as the winds howled overhead.

Many TV stations had “interactive centers,” the new term  for gathering news quickly from someone else. So many of the visuals came from everyday people who were eyewitnesses to the calamity and quickly shared it with the world. Nearly every phone is a camera now and so many portable devices are instant uplinks. Many reporters referred to reports on Facebook, America’s relentelssly emerging news source.  

The communication explosion is both exciting and treacherous, just like the Old West. News operations must find a way to harnass this resource or be left behind. It won’t be easy. Journalism is a profession and many of these “citizen journalists” have little training, or perhaps even regard, for the accuracy, objectivity, and clarity needed in sound reporting. Our “instant culture” leaves little time for checking facts or establishing context.

In some ways, it is the Wild West again. The rules have changed. Everyone with a gun then, or a smart phone now, has a say. In the end, information consumers will have the biggest say in how they get their news, and from whom.

The writer is former TV news anchor/reporter and current adjunct Siena journalism professor.