During my tenure in the newspaper business, sitting in one too many “strategic planning retreats” — which typically involved way too many people — I recall hearing about this thing, not highly-regarded at the time, called the internet.
Traditional media still ruled the day, and yet, newspaper eyeballs had begun to age with no younger readers in sight. The snapshot I retain is of the time a research report was discussed.
The report clearly stated that, due to time famine and the explosion of nanosecond journalism, there was no guarantee that at the age of 30, DNA would instantaneously drive ravenous consumption of newsprint.
Fast forward to today — the reports of the imminent death of print have been lingering for at least a decade. Digital delirium has come and gone while the death watch continues. What I am particularly perplexed by is the intense analysis of millennial traits and opinions. The solicitations for seminars about the care and feeding of millennials.
What do they think? When will they exceed Boomers? What are their consumption habits? Forgive the bad joke, but is the new best seller “The Millennial Whisperer”?
Sure, when a bright-eyed, eager member of this generation comes in for an interview and the question is asked, “What do you know about the magazine?” the answer is often a painful one.
“Well, I know my mom gets it, and she likes it.” Wince.
But more often in recent years, I have found that this mystical generation is not different from any other. Many come in as subscribers to our publications, have read stories and aptly discuss the societal implications with as much authority as any senior member of the staff. They are not, as has been suggested, the “light” consumers of information.
If the Gray Lady, The New York Times, can claim 15.9 million readers in this age group, cerebral journalism is indeed alive and well.
City and regional magazines, I believe, are in a great position to mine this fertile field of information seekers. Yes, there is probably a greater degree of self-gratification and social awareness with millennials — but what better place to provide that information than in a regional magazine that delivers a sense of place.
Your invitation to sample may come through Tweets and Instagram posts, but to steal the iconic line from "Field of Dreams" — if you build it, they will come.