Journalists often have to tailor the way that they report to satisfy the evolving needs of their audiences.

Gen Zs are the media industry's youngest news consumers. This group has started to shape not only the platforms used to disseminate news but also the style and format in which this information is presented in.

Although these young individuals still make up a small portion of the audiences that consume news, it is essential for publications to alter their reporting in the meantime to fit their needs. Why, you ask?

This is because doing so allows the publications to invest in their future audiences and ensure the longevity of their publication.

So, journalists, find out how you can secure your future readership here as media update's Lara Smit explores what Gen Zs want and how your reporting can cater to their desires.

Let's dive in:

Gen Zs want to know it all

Gen Zs often describe themselves as a 'woke' demographic because of their advanced awareness of issues and injustices that affect our society (we'll get into this a bit later).

So, while the rest of the world was sleeping, these digital natives had their eyes pulled wide open by a surplus of information on the Internet. Talk about a rude awakening.

Growing up with all of the information at their fingertips, Gen Zs have become an extremely conscious, educated and enlightened group of individuals. Additionally, having this continuous access to information has spiked an insatiable hunger for knowledge among them. But there is also a catch to this — Gen Zs' eyes are much bigger than their stomachs.

Remember the saying, 'Don't shop when you're hungry'? That's what being a Gen Z is like. You end up filling your trolley with much more food than you actually need because you develop a craving for every food item you see.

So, how do these individuals deal with this hunger for knowledge effectively?

Well, they address every craving with a bite-size portion. This way, they can have all the facts without having to stretch their stomachs with a full course of information.

When it comes to reading articles, Gen Zs skim through to find the relevant facts and move on. Therefore, when reporting to these individuals, journalists have to find ways to present them with the facts without having 'fluff' or filler content in between.

One way to do this is by emphasising key aspects of a text and by highlighting it with bold font or by creating pull-out quotes for important information. This makes skimming through an article a bit easier for these individuals while still retaining a format that is friendly to every generation.

Another option is the use of videos. Gen Zs love videos because they cater perfectly to their eight-second attention spans (that's right, it's now eight seconds) by taking away the work of sifting through information and presenting them with only the highlights.

Gen Zs want all the angles

Although no one is truly immune to fake news, Gen Zs are thought to be more attuned to the qualities of false reporting.

Gen Z is incredibly sceptical of the media. This is because as a 'woke' generation, they are aware of how the media was often used in the past as a tool to propagate political and ideological agendas. Additionally, they have grown up with advanced editing software and Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and are hyper-aware of how imagery can be fabricated.

This essentially means that they aren't very quick to accept what is published by the media and do a lot of fact-checking on the news that they are exposed to.

But how can journalists speak to a generation that is sceptical of them? The answer is surprisingly simple: Cover all the angles.

Gen Zs enjoy looking at multiple sources that cover a topic from various angles. By doing this, they develop a more comprehensive understanding of a topic and discern what they believe to be true or not.

Journalists can help them skip a few steps (and gain their support in the process) by covering a story from various perspectives. They can do this by employing a variety of voices and by using multiple trustworthy sources.

All-in-all, journalists should try not to be too linear in their approach to a story. Instead, they should ensure that their reporting is always multi-faceted and that it considers every possibility.

Gen Zs want real coverage

According to Forbes India, Gen Zs want to read news wherein their interests and concerns are represented.

I previously mentioned that being a 'woke' generation means that Gen Zs have an acute awareness of issues and injustices that affect our society. This means that they focus on educating themselves on topics such as the rights of minority groups and the impact of climate change.

However, Gen Zs aren't just focused on educating themselves — they also strive to use this knowledge to spread awareness and instigate change. Therefore, they value journalists that use platforms, like the media, to give voices to the voiceless and shed light on important causes.

What's more is that being aware of societal constructs and their influence has fostered an appreciation for individuality and authenticity amongst these individuals.

This also means that they find sensationalism in the news incredibly off-putting. Rather, they want news to be real and nuanced instead of dramatised. Simply put, they want the importance of a story to be communicated by the seriousness of its facts and consequences as opposed to its delivery.

Therefore, if journalists would like to appeal to Gen Zs, they should focus less on using style, tone and language to provoke their audiences. They should rather concentrate on covering stories that are significant and educate people about the issues that this generation cares about.

What else do you think journalists need to do to capture the attention of the Gen Z audience? Let us know in the comments section below.

Want to stay up to date with the latest news? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Now that you know what effective reporting for Gen Zs looks like, find out who they are as reporters in our article, Defining the Gen Z journalist.
*Image courtesy of Canva