The Vancouver Sun’s Kirk Lapointe points to a new survey that shows the Internet doesn’t connect well with older people.
Besides the obvious “well duh” response to this, allow me to turn it on its head a bit: Is it that the Internet appeals to the young, or that traditional media sources appeal to the old?
Let me give you an example: Open your Saturday newspaper. And if you’re under 35, open your parents’ Saturday newspaper. Take a look at the sections:
- Homes: Assumes that you own a home and are for some reason constantly renovating it. Little discussion of issues facing apartment-dwellers, if at all.
- Cars: Usually multiple sections a week dealing with new vehicles. Out of those 10-20 articles a week, rarely will any focus on bicycles or other alternative forms of transportation. Even used cars get very little coverage.
- Working: Assumes you work in a cubicle as an insurance adjuster, and are looking for a new job as an insurance adjustment manager at another company. Minimal discussion of working at minimum-wage jobs, contract jobs, freelancing or other non-suit-and-tie careers.
- Comics: The vast majority of which are ridiculously unfunny because they’re designed primarily not to offend grandma.
- Crosswords and other ancient games: Either they’re too simple (like Wonderword) or too time-intensive (like the New York Times crossword). Sudoku is about the only thing in there that comes out of this millennium, and every newspaper on the planet has one of those.
- Wine and fine dining: Pages and pages devoted to this stuff. Some have entire sections devoted to just wine. No other food or drink gets such prestige.
- Fashion: Concentrates on what crazy expensive fad you can buy into instead of how you can adapt the clothing you already have to make yourself more fashionable. Regurgitating a Gucci press release is more important than coming up with original DIY styles.
- Travel: Focuses on far-away places and expensive touristy trips instead of regional destinations or economical/environmentally-friendly/unusual vacations.
The reason behind these are obvious: That’s where the ad money is. Car companies pay for the biggest ads, so their sections are the largest, even though buying a new car is hardly the most important thing you have to deal with on a weekly basis.
I’d be willing to forgive these things if they were counterbalanced with sections that appealed to young people. But look for sections on gaming, education, the environment, Internet issues, technology or science and you come up far short, if you find anything at all. When a paper does cover some of these issues, they cater even those articles to their “general” audience, which means they have to explain what a blog is and what Facebook is all about. It comes off sounding patronizing and very uninformative.
So without newspapers and other traditional media to turn to, is it surprising that they’re finding what they need online?