Media YOPE - The new teenage magazine

The new teenage magazine
Photo: YOPE

Ute Mattigkeit betreut die Entwicklung eines multimedialen Magazins für junge Erwachsene in Myanmar. An einem ersten Formatworkshop Anfang November nahmen 20 junge burmesische Journalisten des Verlagshauses Mizzima in Yangon teil.
 

Ute Mattigkeit supervises the development of a multimedia magazine for young adults in Myanmar. At the beginning of November, 20 young Burmese journalists from the publishing house Mizzima took part in an initial workshop in Yangon.

Ute Mattigkeit, can you give us a short look back at the seminar?

In the course of the initial workshop we researched and discussed together what the cornerstones of a new format could be. It was extremely interesting. For example, the colleagues questioned a group of girls and boys aged 13 to 18 about their interests. It was striking that their interests are similar things to those of young people in Europe: music, fashion and actors for example. These are topics we summarized with the term “Stars and Celebrities”. At this age it is very common to look to such role models. It is interesting to note that in Myanmar, these role models are not from the West; instead, Korean popstars and actors are particularly popular.
The second important topic is Sports: here too, this conforms with our experience with the target group in Germany. We labeled a further important category with the keywords “Technology and the Future”. In this context, topics like education and training play a major role. Especially the questions: What job do I want to have? How do I want to organize my life? How can I and how do I want to earn money? What I found very interesting was that lots of teenagers mentioned that they are interested in politics, so far as it relates to their personal situation. That is something special.

After this first categorization on the basis of interviews with the target group, we discussed potential topics that could be exciting for the target group. This clearly showed that the target group originally concieved by Mizzima – teenagers between 13 and 18 years – would not work. 13-year-olds have just entered puberty, some are still children, whereas 18-year-olds are already adults with different interests, opinions and wishes. For this reason we decided to set the target group higher – from age 16 to young adulthood. This is a phase of life where much is going on: studies, first love, first relationship, maybe finding a life partner, maybe even having children. So we will develop a young format, but not a teen magazine. It is important that we aim for a modern way of storytelling. Right from the start, stories will be designed in 360 degrees – this means they will be suitable for TV as well as online and mobile use - wherever the target group can be found, Facebook for example. In this framework, then, a story on Facebook would look different than the TV version. It is important that we take the feedback from our users seriously and that their suggestions be reflected in the stories.
 
What you’ve just addressed picks up on some aspects of the “Heute+” format from ZDF. What form does the offering for this young target group have in Germany? Where is the emphasis in Germany’s media world nowadays?

Actually, there is no homogenous target group. It’s likely, by the way, that it never existed. One just produced and made news, hoping that as many people as possible would watch it. But through our interaction with the users in social media we know much more about what moves and interests people. It clearly shows that the target group from 19 to 49, relevant for quota measurement and advertising sales, does not exist as a unified group. Modern target groups are much more specific and heterogeneous. Therefore, one has to aim much more precisely for individual target groups and that is happening in Germany right now. For this reason, among others, ZDF has developed for example the new news format “heute+”. There are new online formats like “Bento”. The Süddeutsche is reworking “jetzt.de”. These new formats are an attempt to tell news and stories more specifically for a young target group. Young target groups can’t be reached with classic TV news anymore. They consume news whenever they want to and have the time; and likely not at exactly 7:00 pm like the ZDF heute-news, or the 8:00 pm ARD Tagesschau.
 
For years you have been working together with different Goethe Institutes and have been especially active in Southeast Asia. What makes the region interesting for you, especially concerning the media world?

What I find really remarkable in Southeast Asia is the degree of digitization in society. The coverage with smartphones is extremely high. In Southeast Asia an enormous user potential exists. One can reach millions of people using smartphones or social media as media channels. The majority of the population is young. In the target group up to 12 years of age, for example, one can theoretically reach more than 50 million children. A huge market potential is slumbering everywhere. That fascinates me. We are training here with NGOs; but I am a media entrepreneur myself and find the markets very exciting here. The old classic television in the individual countries does not supply the content that people want today. And lots of people don’t trust the broadcaster, as they are often exploited.
 
How will the project continue? To what extend will you be involved?

The workshop helped to define the cornerstones. Now, we can plan further steps. First, our Burmese colleagues are going to produce a pilot – with our support. Therefore, we will send an international team of trainers to Myanmar in March. The fundamental concept is on two levels; first, “consulting on production”. The plan is to conduct training of video journalists, as well as intensive format development. Also we will support our Burmese colleagues with the multimedia-design. For this, a designer will come from Germany to advise on the development process in a creative way; because good design plays an extremely important role today.

The second level is thoroughly commercial. How will Mizzima be able to produce the ambitious format long-term, without support from supervisors? At some point, the format needs to be successful. Together we will define milestones and will constantly check them. How do we need to define the goals and in what time period can we achieve this success? That’ll be an interesting process.