What do you think of modern teenagers

"What's up?"How young people consume politics and news

"We are now wondering what the digital media are doing to us and how has our communication actually changed? I'm Arne and this is a" What's going on? "- Short."

The beginning of an edition of the news format "What's going on !?" on Youtube. Moderator Arne sometimes stands in front of a red wall, sometimes he sits in an office. A big guy with a beard, in his late twenties. His gaze is always directed straight into the camera. Its target group are 13 to 21 year olds. The topics are not just about the realities of life for young people. It's also about big politics.

"At the moment there is an important UN summit taking place in New York. More than 150 heads of state and government from all over the world are taking part in it. Topics that concern everyone at the moment are of course the situation in Ukraine and Syria."

"Teens are interested in facts too. Well, it's not at all. It's just not true that young people wouldn't be interested in the news."

Michael Frenzel is the press spokesman for Mediakraft. A Cologne-based company that markets YouTube stars like no other in Germany. Almost all relevant YouTubers in this country are or were part of the network. Mediakraft also has the message format "What's going on !?" on the way. With own editing and production. The channel started in June 2013 and to date has almost 290,000 subscribers. Each video is clicked an average of ten to 20,000 times. The production is cheap. No feature films, mostly just a person standing in front of the camera and narrating something for four to five minutes.

"I think we still have to understand how media work in the new age on YouTube, on video-on-demand. The fact is that the speaking of news as we actually see it in a relatively traditional way , is obviously something that suits young people. So a person who stands in front of the camera and reports something, tells something, is definitely a format that also works on YouTube and online video formats. "

A format that works on YouTube too

The opening credits of the news clips by Florian Mundt alias Le Floid. He also started at Mediakraft. The Berliner has almost three million subscribers and hundreds of thousands of people see his videos. His interview with Chancellor Angela Merkel this summer, widely discussed in the media, was viewed over four million times. Le Floid is broadcasting straight from his rummaged room. He classifies world events at irregular intervals. Like this:

"Apropos, message! With all the messages and statements, the armaments industry should really get into their own panties. Seriously! The entire armaments industry, the ladies and gentlemen, have to dance so wet in their slips through their offices. Everyone wants fighters, everyone want war, everyone wants guns. The BKA wants to arm the police officers in Germany more heavily. Meanwhile even calls for Bundeswehr deployments inside. Military! Military! Military! And the real winner of this development is clearly certain. Think about it!

Discussion "Do students learn more easily with YouTube and Co.?" (Phil Dera for "Die Zeit")

His news doesn't go into depth. They shouldn't either. Commenting and often polemically, he gives an overview of what is happening in the world at the moment. His language is more authentic than that of the Tagesschau or that of N24. For his young viewers, such videos are often their only contact with world politics. Michael Frenzel:

"Obviously, especially with young people, there is a search for classification by role models. That is an opportunity, but also a certain danger at the same time."

The Federal Agency for Civic Education currently sees this as more of an opportunity and is sending Le Floid and other YouTube giants into the fight against Islamist propaganda on the Internet. Young people at risk should be introduced to a "diverse discussion of the core concepts of Islam", according to the BPB.

"For me today it's about the word" caliphate ". We currently know, for example, in connection with headlines like:" XYZ now wants to die as a martyr in Syria while building a caliphate. "

Balance and neutral reporting only work to a limited extent in the YouTube world, says Bertram Gugel. He is a communication and media scientist - advises broadcasters and publishers on their strategies for online video offers.

“If I want to do it that balanced, the attention threshold is very, very low. The big advantage of linear messages is yes, it's more or less live or it's very, very close and I get very, very in a short period of time high attention. If I absolutely upload something to YouTube now, it's not that I immediately get an audience for my content. That means, I have to build an audience first, it's more about opinions and pieces, which are not necessarily so are fast, have such a short course time, which are completely irrelevant after four hours because the news situation has changed or no one cares anymore. "

More and more TV stations are trying to reach young people with "rejuvenated news". (dpa / picture alliance / Guido Bergmann)

The major German news providers are hardly present on YouTube. ZDF Heute and RTL Aktuell do not have an account, N24 has around 11,000 subscribers, n-tv just under 2,000. The Tagesschau uploads its programs every day and has 26,000 subscribers. Things are going much better for everyone on Facebook. But there are hardly any teenagers waiting for new news content.

"For journalism this means on the one hand that it becomes much easier to spread facts or things at all. On the other hand, being heard becomes much more difficult. I'm watching something, I'm recording something, I have an interesting snippet Spreading that is super easy nowadays, it will be picked up by everyone and will then have an unbelievable reach very, very quickly. But if I research and process things and want to have an audience for it, it will of course be much more difficult because I have to invest, to the effect that I build up this range. "

"Here is the first German television."

YouTube and successful news from established providers - they hardly go together yet.

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you to the Tagesschau. The world climate summit opened in Paris today under strict security precautions. President Hollande and other speakers emphasized that a binding agreement will contribute to world peace."

The Tagesschau tries to become more modern - with a new studio and minimal changes in the address. Tobias Goltz is 29 years old. The journalist works on behalf of the media innovation center in Potsdam-Babelsberg. The aim here is to find out how the Tagesschau can also reach people under 25 in the future. What are you interested in? How is your usage behavior? To find out, he and his colleagues are currently conducting surveys with 18-year-olds.

"And tell me! What are you doing now? You have already started your studies, right?"

(Alexandra) "Yes, exactly. Well, I am now studying international business administration."

(Tobias Goltz) "How long have you been doing this now?"

(Alexandra) "I'm in the first semester, but I've already studied art history for two semesters."

Alexandra and Tobias sit across from each other on a large corner sofa. Alexandra puts her smartphone with the broken display on the table, then we can start.

(Tobias Goltz) "Do you use newspapers regularly or how do you use newspapers?"

(Alexandra) "I don't like to read, so I don't read the newspaper at all. I'm not like that, I should maybe change it. But I'm not like that."

(Tobias Goltz) "Okay, that means, if I understand correctly, you think you should read more somehow, but actually don't do that."

(Alexandra) Nope. It's not like that. I tried it, by the way, because with the new iPhone update there is now the option of having all the news on your dashboard thing and then, yes, I've tried it in the meantime. But I really should do it more.

Many young people no longer use television as a source of information. (picture alliance / dpa / Marcus Brandt)

She goes on to say that she has never owned her own television. She does not use linear television, nor does she usually stay away from the media libraries of public and private broadcasters. Television is obsolete for her - she prefers to watch streaming offers of series and films on the computer.

(Tobias Goltz) Radio relevant to you in any way?

(Alexandra) No. Well, I also know a lot of people who had a radio in the kitchen of their parents' house and who heard something there. But it was never like that for me. But always when driving, of course. The radio is always turned on.

Tobias Goltz shows her the new Instagram account of the Tagesschau. Instagram is a social network that belongs to the Facebook group. Over 400 million people worldwide share photos, like them and comment on them.

(Alexandra) "For me, Instagram is more like this: people share their private content. And Tagesschau like that on Instagram. I don't know if I think that's that good."

(Tobias Goltz) "Does that seem a bit strange to you?"

(Alexandra) "Yes, I think that seems a bit" would like "to me. According to the motto: We want to take part too. But I think that somehow doesn't fit."

The ARD news mostly posts 15-second videos here. Aesthetic pictures, overlaid fonts that present facts and figures on a specific topic. Or just agency photos, including a short text with the message. The 18-year-old student is skeptical.

(Tobias Goltz) "Is the Tagesschau also allowed to use emojis and smileys?"

(Alexandra) "No, oh God! That's a completely different thing! That doesn't belong in there. So if the Tagesschau were a person, it would be a man around 55. Dark blue suit, white shirt, blue tie, chic shoes . Yes, because that is serious and elegant and life experience, therefore a bit older. With whom I cannot talk because he argues me away. "

The interview is over after 90 minutes. Tobias Goltz is satisfied, statements like Alexandra's do not surprise him.

(Tobias Goltz) "I think she is a very exemplary user. One who also stands for a larger group of people. Because she has just said that she is actually interested in many topics. Politics, economics, current affairs and thinks, she needs to deal with it more. You get the feeling that she actually wants it too. But actually she doesn't do it. She doesn't watch the news, she doesn't go to any news sites on the Internet knows all of this, but she doesn't do it and for us it is exactly the exciting point where we consider: How can you manage to get the news offers to these people who are actually interested. "

During field research at the Potsdam-Babelsberg Media Information Center, Tobias Goltz and his colleagues came to the conclusion that today's young people are most likely to be reached via messenger services. Right where they exchange countless messages with their friends every day. In Germany, WhatsApp - also an offshoot of Facebook - is the most widely used messenger on smartphones. The problem: The operators prohibit the commercial use of their service. Numerous public and private radio stations have tried WhatsApp to keep in touch with their listeners and have been blocked. A dilemma. Nevertheless, an approach that online strategy consultant Bertram Gugel considers to be the right one:

"I'm not saying: You have to go to Facebook or YouTube or everything is going down the drain. But when I say I'm not going there, then I have to have a clear path, what are my alternatives? An example: I have many users easily, very independently, by having their email addresses, sending out newsletters. I need the mobile phone number of my users so that I can send them via any messenger, SMS or similar things. Also because of neutral technology, I can send something out to everyone . Without my being dependent on any middleman to get in the way. "

In Germany, WhatsApp - also an offshoot of Facebook - is the most widely used messenger on smartphones. (dpa / picture alliance / Henning Kaiser)

A year ago, Westdeutscher Rundfunk launched an offensive to land on YouTube with news topics. The name: "3sechzich". The concept: typically YouTube. A person speaks into the camera, quick cuts and personal impressions. Ben, one of the moderators, stands in a completely black backdrop and comments on mini-excerpts from the main news. For example, statements by the Federal Minister of the Interior.

"Man, man, man! What an absurd week in Pegida Land!"

(Thomas de Maizière) "It is now absolutely clear that those who organize this are tough right-wing extremists. They generally refer to asylum seekers as criminals."

(Moderator) "No !? Condemn people across the board. Who does that?"

(Thomas de Maizière) "They strike because they don't like the accommodation, they cause trouble because they don't like the food. They beat in asylum seekers' facilities."

(Moderator) "Anyway"

Short and long clips, professionally produced. However, the number of viewers on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is manageable. At the end of November, the WDR announced that it would end this project.

Things are going much better at ZDF. "Today +" started six months ago. Broadcast on linear television - mainly produced for the Internet. For Facebook and your own media library.

(Daniel Bröckerhoff) "Have a nice evening, here is" heute + ". The topic of the day today was clearly the UN climate conference in Paris. We cannot avoid this conference colossus either. We do not want to, because it is finally possible there about not making our little spaceship completely uninhabitable. So that we can keep track of what is being negotiated, this is available from today. (music is played) The climate protocol. "

The addressing and preparation of the topics differ significantly from the other ZDF news. The moderator Daniel Bröckerhoff does not have a table, does not wear a tie, his expression is rather colloquial. The reporters' contributions are often very personal and try to explain facts simply. The successful news channels on YouTube also played a role in the conception, says editor-in-chief Clas Dammann.

"Of course we also look very closely at what is happening on YouTube and what is also perceived on YouTube as information and news. There is just one mistake we must not make: we must not try to imitate YouTube and YouTubers. What we are already following closely , it is natural that many are popular on YouTube because they always have a very personal connection to the topic. "

LeFloid has become a star with its YouTube videos. (Phil Dera for "Die Zeit")

Perhaps the imitation of YouTube stars like Le Floid was the big mistake of the WDR project "3sechzich". Tagesschau, Heute and Co have so far hardly addressed the young target group. In addition to the topics of friendship, love and education, young people also want information about Merkel, Putin and Obama. It is only through the digital possibilities that everyone can now become a broadcaster that the need for age-appropriate and interest-based news delivery becomes apparent. The target group finds and invents their own message formats. The sociologist Dirk Baecker:

(Dirk Baecker) "If you will, that is a political finding of common ground below the radar screen of parliamentary and democratic politics."

For the sociologist, the successful and strongly opinion-based YouTube news formats do nothing to give young people a basic understanding of the parliamentary form of politics. But: conventional media and politics are still busy trying to understand what is happening.

(Dirk Baecker) "But when it comes to understanding what is happening, rethinking one's own terminology, the description of tasks in politics, the legitimacy claim of politics, the organizational figures of politics, then I think it takes two to three generations, that is 45 years to conceptualize politics for any new circumstances. "

"We have already talked about whether that makes sense with manned space travel, here or here."

The "What's up !?" Incidentally, Mediakraft was recently discontinued after two years. Too few clicks, no economic viability. Mediakraft spokesman Michael Frenzel:

"So a news format would have to have several hundred thousand views per video for it to actually work in the end."

The YouTube platform, which by the way is part of the Google Group, earns money by placing advertisements before, during and after the videos. The authors receive a share of the income.Another reason why the private television companies are hardly present here. They don't want to share their profits with Google. Mediakraft now wants to continue to concentrate on mainstream offers. In short: entertainment, comedy and make-up tips.

(Michael Frenzel) I don't think that in the end there will be more than a handful of journalistic YouTube channels that can actually be financed through advertising. We have the same situation with online blogs. Even today there are only a handful of journalists who can actually make a living from running a blog through advertising and making a living from it. I believe that the future of journalism actually lies in royalty funding.

Michael Frenzel is still skeptical of the planned ARD-ZDF youth channel, which is to be distributed primarily on YouTube and other platforms. He doesn't want to see entertainment formats there.

Christoph Keese from Axel Springer Verlag is considered one of the pioneers of digital business models for the journalism of the future. He doesn't see the future of news on YouTube.

"YouTube takes the liberty to take control of creative content with legal tricks and finesse and to place advertising around it, without giving those who generated this creative content an appropriate share of the proceeds, and that doesn't work at all actually a kind of uprising of the creative to put a stop sign. "

Obviously, the established media are not offering young viewers what they want to see today. When you look at the age structures of the editorial offices in most broadcasters and publishing houses, one thing becomes clear: you often look in vain for young editors with responsibility.

"Do you find this whole Martian thing exciting, are you interested in the whole thing? Should we maybe do more trips to Mars, etc.? Please write that in the comments. That was the flash, see you next time! Ciao!"