In the spring of 2007,
The Associated Press embarked on some business research that beganquite routinely but would end up reshaping our thinking about jour-nalism in the digital age.As part of our strategic planning process, we sought to understandnews consumption patterns beyond what traditional market data andconsumer surveys could tell us. We had a senior management retreatcoming up, and we needed something more exciting than regionalgrowth rates to stimulate discussion.An analyst on the planning staff suggested doing an “ethnography”of young adult consumers, and after a quick Google search to under-stand exactly what that meant, we decided to give it a try.To be frank, our expectations were modest. We sought some realpeople to put a human face on the accelerating shift to online and mo-bile consumption of news around the world. We knew young peoplewere at the leading edge of that movement and a cultural sciencestudy of their media habits sounded like fun.In the end, it proved to be as transformative as it was fun. The hu-man stories were only the start. From there, the professional anthro-pologists we commissioned to conduct the research created a modelfor news delivery that distilled the challenge to its essential elements.Based on the observed behavior of the subjects in the study, four ba-sic news entry points were identiﬁed as the main components of thesubjects’ news diets: Facts, Updates, Back Story and Future Stories.The essential ﬁnding: The subjects were overloaded with facts andupdates and were having trouble moving more deeply into the back-ground and resolution of news stories.