Amy Zerba

In the digital age of multitasking, free news and social media, millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, have low news consumption, a panel of journalists said Thursday.

The School of Journalism hosted the Millennials and News Summit to discuss solutions to engage this demographic in the news conversation.

Millennials want news that is on demand and searchable, said Amy Zerba, a University of Florida journalism professor.

Zerba said this generation is used to multitasking, preferring to be on different websites while reading news.
“Multitasking is huge to this millennial generation,” Zerba said. “They are getting their news by doing other things. News organizations need to realize that they are not fully paying attention but they will when something piques their interest.”

Tod Robberson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial writer for The Dallas Morning News, said discussions of news in the classroom can produce more news consumers. He said a sixth-grade teacher invited him to speak about his time as a foreign correspondent because they were reading a book on a Kurdish refugee family living in Iraq.

“If you see a byline in a newspaper as a kid, that’s not a real person,” Robberson said. “Even when you see them on TV, they’re not real. It’s not until there’s personal interaction when they’re real human beings.”

Thu Pham, a government and journalism senior, said news reports about higher education often totally ignore students’ voices.

“Nobody our age is interviewed to find out our thoughts,” Pham said. “They look down on us for not being able to get a job and being pampered all our lives.”