The website Mashable (www.mashable.com) is very clearly designed to draw in 20 to 30-year-olds, not senior citizens. It is for the “connected generation who are looking for news, information and resources,” according to its mission statement.
Its primary topic is social media, because that’s where the connected generation spends most of its time. Next up is tech, because that’s how the electronic generation communicates. That’s followed by business, lifestyle, watercooler, entertainment, US and the world, and videos. It attracts 20 million visitors a month, and over 6 million users connect with it via social media.
Mashable updates its readers on state-of-the-art news in technology and social media. It lets them know what TV show is landing on Hulu, what’s new with Instagram, and what’s the latest with the Angry Birds video game. These are tracked like weather updates on all-news radio. These technology updates entice and attract its 20-something audience.
Mashable has an impressive roster of writers who specialize in lifestyle, pop culture, the Internet, and any other topic that a recent college graduate might be interested in. In fact, it has two reporters that concentrate on apps and tech startups. But it also covers social good, Europe, and sports. It launched in 2005 and is headquartered in New York and has a San Francisco office.
Its social media section explores and dissects social media and concentrates on the most popular sites. The section includes: Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, All Social Media, and How-To.
“How is Facebook Addiction Affecting Our Minds?” is a recent article on the site. It noted that receiving updates from Facebook produces a hit of dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain associated with rewards. It warns readers that excessive use of Facebook can lead to “Internet Addiction Disorder.” Ironically, the article is about 100 words long, proving that the site realizes its viewers don’t want to spend excessive time reading about social media addiction.
Despite Mashable’s emphasis on covering the ever-changing tech scene, it also offers a sense of history.
On Election Day 2012, it featured “Watch 50 Years of Presidential Election Announcements,” an article that analyzed the history of the influence of TV on elections. The first such contest played out on TV in 1948 when viewers watched Harry Truman outlast Thomas Dewey to become president. The article said that reporting methods back then were “primitive,” but didn’t explain exactly what that means. When Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976, the article said, “the white board and clunky graphics added election night drama that today’s social media just can’t replace.” As in many Mashable articles, videos accompanied it.
Though Mashable operates as an Internet style newspaper, one factor differentiates it from traditional newspapers. Some of its articles have clear sponsorship and function as advertorials, emphasizing the advertising, not the news. These articles are not written by Mashable’s reporters.
For example, the article on “17 Things You Didn’t Know About E-Commerce” was sponsored by PayPal and is part of Mashable’s BrandSpeak series. In that program, articles “give voice to Mashable advertisers’ best content.” The article consists of a series of unrelated facts touting online sales, which are expected to reach $200 billion by the end of 2012. Most consumers spend about $1,200 a year on online shopping and conveys the unstated message that many will use PayPal to pay for their online spending.
The US and the world section doesn’t cover traditional politics but interprets how the Internet and politics intersect. For example, during the recent presidential election, articles included “Facebook and Foursquare’s Real-Time Voting Maps,” “If You Live in These States, You Can’t Instagram a Ballot,” and “How to Watch Election Results Online.”
Videos play a major role on Mashable. A series about online dating-- “Will Stalking Your Online Date Kill Your Chances?”--was shown via video, which was introduced by a brief summary. .
Many of Mashable’s lifestyle articles try to keep the reader one step ahead of rapidly changing technology. For example, the update “In the Future, We’ll All Be Working on the Road” described a state-of-the-art, digitally-filled Bentley automobile.
This “new Bentley” includes built-in Wi-Fi, an iPad on a tray table, and a 15-inch high-definition TV, all forming a connected mobile office on wheels.
Only in the last line does the reporter note that “building this functionality into cars in a way that’s both safe and accessible” is what will determine its effectiveness.” If drivers are texting, watching TV, and viewing their iPads, the roads may turn into a danger zone.
Mashable also offers a jobs boards that specializes in tech jobs. Hence, jobs posted recently include system administrators, manager of mobile products, senior product managers, and lead Java developers.
Readers interested in learning the latest news on video games, apps, Facebook, and gadgetry are increasingly turning to Mashable. It functions like a tech newspaper for the millennial generation.
Gary M. Stern is a freelance writer based in New York City.