PAULINE'S PICKS: AP's asap Creates Video for a Young, Niche Beat

By: Pauline Millard Hitting the elusive 18-to-34 demographic is a challenge not only for advertisers, but for newspapers as well. As the traditional newspaper reader ages, papers need to find new ways to attract young people to their product -- which is increasingly going online.

A few years ago The Associated Press started asap, a news service aimed at younger readers. The writing is bright, the reporters are young and most importantly they've stayed open-minded about using new forms to tell news.

One of their most innovative reporters is Derrik J. Lang, who came on in 2004. In addition to his daily reporting duties, he started The Slug, a blog for asap about pop culture. But Lang didn't limit himself to just television and movies. Eventually he and his colleague Ryan Pearson started reporting about video games, which is one of the fastest-growing trends for young people.

At the risk of stating the obvious, young people today are accustomed to an MTV style of news. They know VJs and reality show characters by their first names and have very strong opnions about them. That said, when they glean information, it needs to have some personality to it. Enter Lang and Pearson.

About once a week or so Lang and Pearson host "Up, Down, Left, Right" a short show about video game news that runs on the AP video wire, as well as on The Slug. Lang and Pearson, ever the intrepid reporters, go to gaming conventions and events and talk to the brains behind the games. In one very amusing segment Lang faced off against comedian Patton Oswalt, the voice behind the Disney movie and video game "Ratatouile."

The strength of these segments are the hosts' personalities. They clearly love all this gaming stuff. This mix of enthusiasm and expertise makes the show addictive, and creates an interesting format that could be used at other papers.

If readers, especially young ones, respond to video, perhaps it's worth a paper's time and resources to invest in creating a few regular segments. Video works especially well for beats that have clear, visual elements. Video games are a good example, but cooking, music and even film pieces could benefit from short episodes, such as the ones in "Up, Down, Left, Right."

This column is all about fresh interpretations of news, so feel free to let me know about ones you like.

And in case you missed them, here are past Picks:

The Fayetteville Observer looks to the web to fill a nightly newscast need .

The Washington Post uses various multimedia in a special report and Post Traumatic stress Disorder and the Walter Reed medical center. Tells Local Stories -- With Audio Slideshows

Podcasts on The New York Times

The Miami Herald's 'What The Five!'


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