Millennials And Money: A Guide To Covering Millennials

by August 14, 2015
Photo via Pixabay.com

Photo via Pixabay.com

Reynolds Center Graduate Assistant Rian Bosse invented our Millennials And Money column.  As he moves on to new duties at the Cronkite School, we asked him to share some departing thoughts about covering millennials.

Over the past few months, we’ve covered a lot of stories with a focus on Millennials, now the largest generation in the country. It’s ranged over a lot of topics, from digital careers to buying cars.

Millennials are the hot demographic for journalists and marketers who seem to spend a lot of time trying to generalize the group and predict what trend they’re going to follow next. That’s turned out a lot of predictions that miss the mark and even some negative attitudes toward the generation.

If you want to create useful and informative content for your Millennial readers, skip the speculation and stick to what has concerned every generation.

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Yes, believe it or not, Millennials want fulfilling careers, they want to be able to afford things, even houses, and they want to have enjoyable lives. The only difference is how that all comes about in today’s digital and post-recession economy.

This all means that covering “Millennials and Money” is more than just writing about Millennials. More importantly, it’s writing about what affects Millennials.

Like all readers, Millennials want stories about things that affect them, not ones that try to fit them into a pigeon hole. It seems obvious, but it’s not something media outlets always do.

I’ve gathered some of the big topics we’ve covered in this mini-guide, along with a few examples from around the web and some story ideas. They’re good places to start coverage that Millennials need.

If you’re a Millennial reporter on the money beat for the first time, don’t be afraid to pitch story ideas based on what is affecting your life right now. A good newsroom develops diverse story angles and, while it might not seem like it right away, your editor will probably appreciate your younger viewpoint.

Student Loan Debt

Covering money often means keeping readers up to date on what’s filling or draining their wallets. For older generations, that might mean covering stocks and finance. But for Millennials, one of the most pressing issues that affects their money is student loan debt, something we’ve talked about here extensively.

With elections right around the corner, there will be plenty of new ideas from politicians on how to manage the burden, now over $1 trillion across the country. But it’s more than just politics.

How are local colleges making degrees more affordable? How creative are students getting as they avoid debt when they move on from high school? If you live in a college town, are local shops seeing students spend less now that more and more are concerned about saving money? These are some things to keep in mind as the fall semester starts in a few weeks.

Transportation

One common concern was that Millennials would never buy cars, but as the generation has gotten older and more established financially, a number of people are second guessing that trend.

It’s a safe bet that it will probably fluctuate, but in a lot of cities and suburban areas young people want public and alternative transportation, whether they own a car or not. Benét Wilson did a great job looking at the trend and showed that there are a wealth of things to cover with Millennials and public transportation.

With more and more cities of all sizes dedicating public money to improve public transportation, it’s certainly something that affects young readers.

What are cities in your coverage areas doing to fund things like light rails and buses. What are they doing to improve and build bike lanes and trails? Are there any other creative ideas in the works? You can also look into the demographics that are using new transportation options. Are they drawing more young riders?

Technology

Almost everyone has a smartphone. You’ve probably noticed that Millennials use them a lot, but it’s not just for things like Facebook and Instagram.

In today’s economy, young entrepreneurs can start a business by downloading an app on their phone or tablet. That’s fundamentally changed businesses and consumers today. Our Zach Bergson wrote up a nice introduction to some recent technology trends from earlier this year. Make sure you stay up to date on developments like these.

How is technology changing business in your area? One of my favorite stories involved a local theater group run by Millennials that offers a Netflix model for tickets.

Are there any unique businesses in your area using tech ideas like this to open up shop? Are more bars, cafes and food trucks using mobile devices to pay the tab? Are local artists making more money thanks to things like Etsy? Is Uber a popular second job in your area? When there are big changes in these companies, how does that affect users in your area?

You can read all of our Millennials And Money stories here. And, good luck, Rian!