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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2007 • Volume 13, Issue 3
Rainforest database •  McCord  •   Pizzeria •  E-waste •  Fashion  •  "Y generation"

What the five!

J.R. Biersmith ‘01, right, and Toni Gonzalez co-host What the 5!, a five-day-a-week, Web-only news segment by the Miami Herald.

What the 5! for Miami’s “Y Generation”

by Justin Phelps ‘05

J.R. Biersmith ‘01 wasn’t feeling creative enough. After earning a bachelor’s degree in international business at Bradley, he worked three years in finance in New York City. Then he went to Miami, Florida. “My dream job has been to run my mouth basically,” Biersmith said with a laugh, “to be a broadcaster of some sort. I just didn’t feel creative.” Now he “runs his mouth” daily for the Miami Herald’s new online video news segment What the 5!

Biersmith left NYC to enroll in the University of Miami’s one-year master’s program in broadcasting. As he neared graduation in July 2006, Biersmith said he looked at the landscape of media and how it was changing. “People 20 to 30 years old — the Y Generation — are not reading newspapers. We’re on the Web. We’re not watching our local news all that much, but we care about what’s going on locally.”

He contacted the Miami Herald about an innovative idea for its Web site. The goal was to target young adults with a three- to five-minute, Web-only news segment. It was a tough sell. For about three months, Biersmith pitched the idea to newspaper executives and university officials. “It took a long time, a lot of persistence,” Biersmith said. “I kept hounding the publisher and people from the University of Miami, asking to meet one day to talk about the viability of this thing. I pitched the business model, but it took two or three months to sell. Once somebody bought it for six months, we got the go ahead.”

The show launched February 19. Biersmith, whose program is advertised daily on the front page of the
Miami Herald, says the goal of What the 5! is to give the “Y Generation” its news, because he says media outlets aren’t reaching that demographic. “The Miami Herald is the information leader for this community,” Biersmith said. “The Miami Herald is making an effort, as all papers are, to become more video conscious to reach this demographic. That was the thrust of my pitch: If we get a sponsor every day, and we start driving people to this Web site … if I talk about a story you’ve already done, then you’re going to get more clicks for that story. Basically we’re fostering what journalists are already doing; we’re just redistributing it.”

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Rainforest database •  McCord  •   Pizzeria •  E-waste •  Fashion  •  "Y generation"