They don't want their MTV. They want their UGC.
This is the writing on the wall according to journalism school participants in the Innovation Incubators project, presented Thursday at the ONA conference in downtown Toronto.
Three groups of journalism students from schools across the United States presented web-design solutions intended to bridge the gap between todayís news producers and news consumers of the future.
The first group presented Locker Talker, a hybrid news/social networking/educational tool that would give kids a safe place to practice social networking and get news.
VoxPop, a crowd-pleasing activist application promoting democracy, would allow news readers to conveniently forward their thoughts on a given news item to their elected representatives.
The final offering was Tandem, a local news networking where users would piece together multimedia posts to collectively create local stories, say, about a parking problem on campus.
If the projects were sometimes rough around the edges -- the students are looking for partners to develop a polished product -- I am certain they tickled the interest of even the most staunch traditionalists in the audience.
Like it or leave it, the groups seemed to say, User-Generated Content (UGC) is here to stay, and to grow. The current generationís media consumers are media producers, too. Theyíve grown up e-mailing, blogging, playing video games and designing Web sites. They donít want to be spoon-fed anything, let alone news.
At 25, I am outside the demographic that some of the projects are shooting for -- a generation acting as co-conspirators in the 2.0 revolution.
Like many young journalists these days, I feel old.
-- Drew Halfnight