News in GIFS: 4NewsWall, brilliant or patronising?

GIFS are cool, but the media generalising young people isn’t…


So here the media go again, stereotyping ALL the younger generation as purely social-media & short snippet text consumers. Powered by Channel 4 News, 4NewsWall has been launched as a website presenting daily headlines in the form of GIFs (Graphics interchange format), in an attempt “to repackage online news in a format more appealing to teens and young adults”.

 Kevin Sutcliffe, head of news programming EU at Vice News believes that the reason [traditional news reporting] doesn’t speak to a young audience is obvious. “It’s middle-aged journalists in suits and ties talking to middle-aged journalists in suits and ties in studios. Or out on live links in front of something going-on – it feels formal, it feels mediated, it feels talked-down-to.”

 Wait a minute, has he actually asked young people if they feel this way? Well obviously not enough if he has. As a 19-year old I feel pretty talked down to when a GIF consisting of four words representing news is “speaking my language”, which is what Olivia Browne, group business director at 4Creative is suggesting.

 With respect, it’s not all bad, you can click on the GIF to get a summary of the news it’s representing, but I’m talking one paragraph here. However, my point’s not really the GIF itself, but the view the media seem to have of ALL young people. It appears that channel 4 think that for under 25-year olds to be interested in news, and go on to read it in more depth, they need a moving image with four words to lure them in, with the in-depth part consisting of a mere condensed paragraph. Yeah, some of the GIFs are cool and funny, but middle-aged journalists in suits claiming things that haven’t come directly out our mouths aren’t.

 Rather than making sweeping assumptions like “It speaks their language.” Instead what about saying: “It’s an alternative way to interact with news in the age of multi-media, social media & Internet.” You never know thirty something or even fifty year olds might like it too.


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