What are young people interested in? Which media content do they want to see? And which digital platforms do they use? Tamedia wants to learn the answers to these and many more questions directly from teenagers – in the "Tages-Anzeiger Youth Lab". From mid-September to December 2021, thirty young people will pay weekly visits to the editorial office in Zurich to attend workshops where they will help to shape the future of quality journalism.
Tamedia wants to gain a better understanding of young people's interests and needs, and to learn from them what they think about the media world and what they expect of a news title. Following the successful launch and implementation of the "20 Minuten Youth Lab" three years ago, the Tages-Anzeiger is now inviting a group of young people to workshops in the editorial office in Zurich. Employees of the Tages-Anzeiger and members of the Tamedia editorial staff will join them to discuss their expectations of journalism and to create new and innovative ideas. The thirty teenagers come from all over Switzerland; aged between 15 and 19, they competed against a total of 85 fellow applicants to win their places.
The project was initiated by Chairman of the Board of Directors and Publisher Pietro Supino and Marco Boselli, Co-Director of Tamedia. Inhouse responsibility for the project is shouldered by Katharina Graf, Head of Blogs at Tamedia and Adrian Zurbriggen of the Tamedia chief editorial staff. The team is also supported by the co-editors-in-chief of the Tages-Anzeiger, Priska Amstutz and Mario Stäuble.
The "Tages-Anzeiger Youth Lab" was developed by Sandra Cortesi, who is also closely involved in its implementation. Sandra Cortesi, a Swiss national who grew up in Colombia, has headed the Youth and Media Project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University for the last thirteen years. She can draw on many years of experience in collaborating with young people, and she has already given her support to the "20 Minuten Youth Lab".
Below, Katharina Graf and Sandra Cortesi give answers to four questions about the "Tages-Anzeiger Youth Lab".
What does Tamedia hope to achieve with the Tages-Anzeiger Youth Lab?
Katharina Graf: We want to learn about the needs of our future readership. How can we introduce young people to our newspapers? What must we do so that they see and read us – and maybe even become subscribers? We also want to join forces with the young people to develop fresh ideas that could offer added value for our current readership as well. Actually, plunging into the world of young people and letting them explain their needs to us can be a tremendously stimulating and enriching experience for all of us.
Why is it important for a paid newspaper such as the Tages-Anzeiger to adopt a "youth perspective"?
Katharina Graf: The Tages-Anzeiger shouldn't turn into a youth newspaper, that's obvious. But young people often use technologies and information media in unexpected ways that are quite unfamiliar to us. Adopting their perspective can help us to look at our daily business through fresh eyes. This can stimulate new journalistic content and formats as well as new products, features or subscription models. What's more, we view the Youth Lab as an opportunity to analyse and maybe reinterpret concepts such as quality journalism, trust and privacy.
How do young people get their information today, and what role can a media title such as the Tages-Anzeiger play in this?
Sandra Cortesi: Nowadays, young people are turning less and less to traditional media such as TV, radio and newspapers for their information; instead, social media such as Instagram, TikTok, YouTube or WhatsApp are their main sources. When asked why, they often mention key words such as "understandable" and "relevant". Many young people feel that a majority of newspaper articles simply don't address them – perhaps because of the language, because they don't have an overview of the subject, or the article's relevance to everyday life isn't obvious. At the same time, young people find that specific types of content are lacking. Going forward, this could be the content that is offered by a media title such as the Tages-Anzeiger.
So what new opportunities emerged for 20 Minuten after the Youth Lab was implemented?
Sandra Cortesi: Several specific product ideas have taken shape as a result of the "20 Minuten Youth Lab". One example: the overview boxes at the beginning of every article that have been used since the Lab – these have met with a very good response from young readers and other groups as well. Also, the Youth Lab was a great opportunity to find new talents. Several participants went on to complete internships at 20 Minuten, and some of them even took up full-time positions. At the same time, the Youth Lab was an innovative and inspiring project – for everyone who took part (including the adults), and also within the Swiss and international media landscape. For instance, the Youth Lab was also discussed in the "SRF Medienclub" and was presented as a showcase model in several reports.