News Formats: What We Have Learned From 3rd Gen Z News Lovers – Part 1 | What’s New in Publishing


Like most generations in their younger years, today’s Gen Z is interested in specific social causes. To keep abreast of these causes, they consume the news like anyone else.

To find out how they consume this news and in what formats, we asked 3 Generation Z news lovers. Meet Dina, Pierre and Clara.

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Gen Z loves news apps, but they could be better

Generation Z has not known life without the internet and mobile phones, which has shaped its consumption habits. News apps and notifications were surprising areas where we found Gen Z was consuming their news.

Publishers have to fight to make sure their app ends up on Gen Z phones. In a busy world, news apps need to tell Gen Z what they want to know, and quickly. This in-app newsreader could also benefit from customization. By adopting specific “areas of interest” as on ICT Tac, Gen Z can consume whatever information they want. This prevents them from getting lost in a wall of varied and sometimes heavy content.

“Having a huge, unorganized wall of information certainly doesn’t invite people to spend money on a product..”

Bente Zerrahn, Innovation Catalyst, Axel Springer

Clara explained that The worldThe app is best in class for her as it successfully presents her news in a way that is easy and quick to consume in a busy life. The worldPush notifications were also a powerful tool to guide its news reading experience, as they showcased the detail that so many notifications often miss. Our Gen Zers have suggested that news publishers should focus their investments on their own mobile technology rather than elsewhere so that people go directly to news apps, not others.

Newsletters provide the perfect level of information

Much has been written about newsletters and the reinvention of a classic tool, but they are still loved by Gen Z. Newsletters provide a finite amount of content, available in your inbox at specific times of the day. They offer a break from the scroll of fate on ever-changing news feeds.

Dina gave the example of her subscription to a New York Times newsletter. This newsletter arrives in her inbox early in the morning and she is notified by push notification. Upon waking, this newsletter is crucial in providing Dina with the news she needs to know so she can feel prepared for the day. This finite experience also gives a sense of feasibility and can stop the news fatigue created by endless streams of content.

Of course, improvements can be made to the operation of the newsletters. Better and more specific newsletters was an area where our cohort told us publishers could improve. By creating newsletters around topics that interest Gen Z, or giving them the ability to personalize them, reading the news could have a clearer and more structured direction. Generation Z wants to know more about the areas that particularly interest them. They also want to be kept up to date with major world news, so giving them that in a finite experience is a great opportunity for publishers.

We all know that on the whole Gen Z are prolific users of social media. But it didn’t seem like a place where our Gen Z interviewees largely went for information. What’s particularly promising for publishers is the understanding among our respondents that social media doesn’t make the news. It was very clear that for them, social networks only played a role in disseminating information. The source of the news is with the new brands.

ICT Tac was discussed as a platform that some publishers have successfully leveraged to reach Gen Z. Dina highlighted the Washington Postit is ICT Tac counts as the perfect balance between being topical and adopting the playful tone needed to fit in and reach the Gen Z demographic. ICT Tacthe Washington Post do well to embrace trends and challenges to differentiate their news content from light and friendly content. The fact that these “sophisticated” brands are able to balance their feeds is something Dina finds appealing to Gen Z.

Source: The Washington Post TikTok

Have a separate news account on instagram was also a fascinating learning from our interviews. To avoid confusing interest in the activities of friends and family with current events, Clara has created 2 separate accounts. In doing so, she essentially decided to run her own news. Her news-focused account provides her with the kind of news she thinks her news apps can’t, especially about fashion, lifestyle, arts and culture. Maybe publishers would be better off splitting up their social media offerings and giving visual life to areas that really deserve it.

Retro feeling always surrounds traditional products

Whisper it quietly, but it doesn’t have to be all the bells and whistles (or these days all the NFTs and cryptocurrencies) to attract Gen Z. TV and print still play a role in Gen Z’s information consumption. One only has to look at the renewed success of vinyl to see how products once deemed obsolete can live a new life in the future.

Reading a printed copy of the newspaper in a coffee shop or library is something many people enjoy. Clara flagged this as a good chance for a digital break. Pierre also always receives a paper subscription to his favorite film magazine. That said, Gen Z is very aware of sustainability and the need to take care of the planet. So, everyday printing isn’t a solution, but its retro feel shouldn’t be distracting, and it’s a place where a traditional ePaper could be put to good use.

The newscast is a format that does not seem to be threatened by the transition of the news industry. This is partly due to the fact that TV news can now be widely delivered on mobile and PC, its nature being less demanding and easier to multi-task, as opposed to the dedicated focus required by reading news. Watching TV fits in well with Clara’s daily habits, as she incorporates television news into her morning routines. While these formats have been around for a long time, Gen Z may not want them to go away just yet.

Whatever publishers choose to do to attract Gen Z, simplicity seems to be at the heart of their desires. Instead of looking to take advantage of the latest platforms, why not focus on providing top-notch products for your best news?

Matthew Lynes
Media Innovation Analyst @ Twipe

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