Monday, September 10, 2012

Young People Hate the News?

Interesting story (and comments) today over on Romenesko about a new book by Texas journalism prof Paula Poindexter that examines young people and attempts to explain why they, well, hate the news.

Poindexter's book is to the left.  At $150 on Amazon for the hardback, this is as close most of us will ever get.  But it's just $37 for the paperback, so when it's in stock, line up for the cheaper price.

What's all the fuss?  Lemme quote from the press release:

Through a national survey on news engagement, Poindexter has found five major factors affecting millennials’ news consumption:
  • Most millennials give the news media average to failing grades when it comes to reporting on their generation.
  • Millennials describe news as garbage, lies, one-sided, propaganda, repetitive and boring.
  •  When they consume news, millennials are more likely than their baby boomer parents to access news with smartphones and apps and share news through social media, texting and email.
  •  Most millennials do not depend on news to help with their daily lives.
  •  The majority of millennials do not feel being informed is important.
As you can imagine, this is getting some attention, especially the part where millennials find the news "garbage" and don't feel being informed is all that important.  A lot of commenters, of course, argue differently, making the methodological mistake of generalizing from the people they know.  Poindexter's study, which apparently relies on survey data, has something very different to say.

Do I buy it?  Only kinda sorta.

Not that Poindexter doesn't know her stuff.  She's a serious scholar, but until I can review the methodology I can't really say one way or the other whether her theses above make sense.  I say "kinda sorta" because so much depends on how you ask these questions and whether what you think of as news is what they think of as news. 

But if you read carefully what's available on the link above, this is an ambitious project worthy of respect and attention.  Just read the graph below:
During the fall semester, Poindexter and other School of Journalism professors are incorporating the Millennials and News resource into their courses. One such course is “Journalism, Society and the Citizen Journalist,” which Poindexter created with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York as part of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education. Over the course of the semester, students will read and comment on stories posted on the Facebook news page and relevant news will be discussed during class. With the 2012 presidential election approaching, Poindexter said election stories will be an important part of the news mix, so students will have a convenient and reliable place to go to get informed about the candidates, issues, campaign strategies and latest poll results.

That's the kind of nimble, innovative approach to journalism that I'd love to see in my own university.  Sigh.

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