Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A 16-Year-Old Reads the NYTimes

A copy of the dead-tree version of the New York Times now appears every morning on our driveway and with the doldrums of summer my 16-year-old has been seen picking it up and reading ink on paper.

He rarely reads news online.

For example, after he read the story about North Korea missile tests and how the youngest son may be named successor to Kim Jong-il, we chatted about the problems an unstable North Korea raises not only for the U.S. but especially for China. Cool.

What's this to do with what people know? If I generalize from an N of 1, it suggests putting news in front of someone, rather than waiting for them to go to it, is more likely to generate readership and, subsequently, political knowledge. Yeah, it's one kid -- one bright kid -- and it's summer -- and he's sitting at the table eating a bagel -- and what else is he gonna do but pick up the paper sitting right in front of him? And yet, and yet. I think there is something to be said for serendipity, of push instead of pull for news, and the sheer convenience of paper. But it is an N of 1 and generalizing from one person, that never works, at least in real research.


Mark E. Johnson said...

You can push it to an N of 3 - when we get a paper, the 9 and 11 year olds will flip through it. Mostly for the comics, but the 11 year old will read the features section.

Hollander said...

An N of 1 is an anecdote. An N of 3 is a trend!