37 questions to ask when driving engagement with audiences under 35

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) has developed a list of questions for publishers to ask when drafting and delivering news content.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) has developed a list of questions for publishers to ask when drafting and delivering news content.

RISJ published the questions as part of its latest report: How Young People Consume News and The Implications For Mainstream Media, which focuses primarily on the broadcast news and newspaper consumption habits of people under 35 in the US and UK, but includes useful insights to magazine publishers when considering what and how to deliver content to younger audiences. 

The report finds that Gen Y and Gen Z no longer find traditional news media relevant or as dominant when it comes to news content, instead preferring content that is entertaining, and helps with their personal development. 

In engaging younger audiences, the report recommends: 

It then outlines a range of questions to ask when considering the creation and delivery of news to under 35s on the key topics of access and ease of use; how to use third party platforms; encouraging continued engagement; ensuring relevance; and, creating points of view. 

Access and ease of use 

  • How can complex information be presented in bite-sized ways?
  • How can we make news feel less like a chore?
  • How can we ensure that illustrations and animations enhance rather than disrupt the user experience?
  • How can we help people with limited time easily navigate or skim lengthy content?
  • How can mainstream brands leverage their authority to clarify complicated issues?
  • What can we do to prevent more innovative formats from overcomplicating the news experience?
  • How can we make long-running stories with lots of background information feel accessible?
  • Can we harness technology to personalise the content they need (showing explanatory boxes or simpler language just to those that need them).

Third party spaces 

  • How can we tell the story through the medium the platform provides, rather than forcing our own medium into the platform?
  • Can the same story be broken into different versions (Instagram photo-timeline, a Twitter thread, and a longform article)?
  • How can photography play to the creative rules of Instagram rather than traditional photojournalism?
  • How can we ensure the user feels like they’re receiving real content rather than an advertisement?
  • How can our content enhance the experience of the platform?
  • How can we consistently communicate our signature style on different platforms?
  • How can we leverage audiences’ increased desire for reputable sources?

Building habits 

  • How do we create dedicated news occasions in a busy and fragmented world?
  • How do we fit both content and format to contemporary news moments?
  • How can we use reminders/notifications in ways that encourage rather than deter users?
  • How can we create experiences that are as personal, relevant and easy as Facebook and Netflix?
  • How can we build habitual engagement with our brand on third party platforms?
  • How can we become the go-to for updates?
  • How can we take advantage of different needs at different times of day?
  • What does ‘habit’ look like for different types of newsreaders?


  • How can we broaden our agenda without risking our traditional audience?
  • How can we facilitate a more democratic and participatory relationship with audiences?
  • What tweaks can we make to remind our audiences that they have a stake in the issues?
  • How can we marry our brand authority with user-generated content?
  • How can we tell global stories that feel ‘ground-up’ for a worldly and interconnected audience?
  • How can we inspire young audiences around the possibility of change and positive action?
  • How can we deliver innovative formats that feel authentically youthful?
  • How can our tone feel more human and honest? 

Point of view 

  • If we want to deliver opinion, how do we ensure it feels considered and substantiated?
  • How do we offer a variety of opinions without misrepresenting the facts or the degree of support behind them?
  • How do we interact with opposing views in a way that feels intelligent and fair?
  • What role do we want to maintain in relation to superficial ‘hot topics’?
  • How can the opinions we showcase facilitate our audience to develop their own perspective rather than adopt a ready-made one?
  • How can we ensure that we engage with divergent or unpopular views in ways that feel respectful rather than exploitative?

The full report is available for download on the RISJ website. 

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Lyndsie Clark
Lyndsie Clark
Targeted Media Services Network Founder and Editor Lyndsie Clark aims to celebrate and support Australia's print and digital media brands that serve highly engaged, targeted audiences.

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