IGI Global editor weighs in on how millennials are casting a wary eye on today’s media channels

Are Millennials Killing Media or is Media Killing Them?

By Abdoul Amadou on May 3, 2018
Prof.Novak Millennials are the future of today’s society. The way they interact and react to current events shape not only their own lives, but the lives of everyone related to said current events. Because of recent news media platforms criticizing millennials, everything from the things they buy to the way they protest, the youth are quickly making almost a unanimous decision to change who they receive their information from, as well as how they share that information with others. Dr. Alison Novak from Rowan University, USA, co-editor of the authoritative reference source, Defining Identity and the Changing Scope of Culture in the Digital Age, studies how gender, race, and age impact the way people choose their media outlets. She has happily shared her insightful thoughts on her motivations to become a researcher and the research areas she intends to pursue in the future, which includes intersectionality and how millennials are shaping media discourse.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in your research area?

I wanted an opportunity to reflect on intersectionality, a critically important term and theory for our time. Intersectionality examines how parts of identity, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age are connected, rather than segmented parts of our lives. This impacts everyone personally, because our identity is more than just a sum of its parts -- it makes up a whole person. Ongoing debates in our society such as police treatment of Black citizens, trans-rights, and popular culture representations all touch intersectionality and our contemporary understanding of identity. Every day, current events remind us that intersectionality is important and needs more scholarship and attention.

Why are your respective areas of research important to the field at large?

My primary area of research focuses on media representations of youth and millennials. I was interested in this topic because I continually saw the often negative or contrarian representations of young people in the news media. I wanted to know where these negative representations came from and how they would impact the generation. We now know that the often-negative discourses about millennials in news media have turned the group away from traditional news media. Millennials are less likely to trust news media and often opt for other pathways to look for information. This is important because it fundamentally shifts the nature of who we turn to for our information and how the news media industry garners our attention.

In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of your research to its community of users?

A primary purpose of my research on millennials is to inform news media organizations how issues of representation can impact viewership and trust. For the news media, a damaged relationship with millennials can impact popularity and profitability of broadcasts. Understanding representation’s role in this relationship can help inform future representation issues for other groups. The research also provides a more qualitative look at this relationship. While most previous research has used statistical analysis to study trust in media, a qualitative approach provides more depth and viewer rationale. This gives the media more information when developing future foci or making choices about representation.

Book cover
What are the future directions of your research areas?

While my past work explores age in media, I am now turning my attention to other political issues, such as network neutrality. Just as a group of people can be represented in the media, so can political issues, which can alter its perceived importance and understanding by other viewers. Similarly, just as people are intersectional, so are public policies. Policies such as network neutrality hold a variety of implications for individuals of all backgrounds. Like the way identity is co-constructed by many parts, policy is often co-constructed by many publics. I’m looking for ways to apply intersectional identity theories in the realm of public policy.

What are some other evolving research trends you have observed in your industry/field over the past several months and what would you say are some of the innovative research directions you foresee in the future? How do you feel your publication sets the pace for these innovations?

Intersectionality remains a vitally relevant area of future research in communication, information technology, and representation. While historically it was only applied to issues of identity, today it can be applied to other areas, such as public policy, digital media, and globalization. The theories presented in Defining Identity and the Changing Scope of Culture in the Digital Age, provide the backdrop for these new trends, while exploring a myriad of contemporary issues. The hope is that the research in this text would illuminate future trends and issues as they evolve.

What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global?

IGI Global provided a wonderful and organized publication experience. The online system made it easy to work with authors, provide and solicit feedback, and engage various audiences in the development of the book. I would strongly recommend IGI Global to any colleagues who are interested in publishing an edited volume.
IGI Global is grateful for the opportunity to work with Dr. Alison Novak and we look forward to seeing more collaboration that will result in the publication of invaluable content such as her co-edited book, Defining Identity and the Changing Scope of Culture in the Digital Age. We would like to thank her and her co-editor, Prof. Imaani Jamillah El-Burki from Lehigh University, USA, for helping IGI Global cultivate and disseminate emerging concepts and theories in Social Sciences and Humanities.

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