Synopses & Reviews
Our democracy is on the brink of a crisis, David Mindich argues in Tuned Out
. As more and more young people turn their backs on political news, America is seeing the greatest decline in informed citizenship in its history. The implications for overall civic engagement are also enormous.
Crisscrossing the country, from Boston to New Orleans and Los Angeles, Mindich has interviewed scores of young Americans about how they keep up with the news: young professionals, college students, and even some preteens. What he discovers is a group that knows less, cares less, votes less, and follows the news less than their elders do and less than their elders did. Noting that the problem is reaching almost unfathomable proportions (the median viewer age of network television news is now 60), Mindich explores the roots of the problem, including the powerful lure of entertainment, which in recent years has grown exponentially--from MTV and ESPN to Nakednews.com--far overshadowing serious news programs. The challenge, Mindich says, is to create a society in which young people feel that reading quality journalism is worthwhile. Some newspapers have responded to the problem by pandering, adding Britney Spears and subtracting John Ashcroft. But in trying to make news matter to young people, the author notes, they make it matter to no one. Tuned Out offers a number of innovative responses to this problem, from requiring every channel to carry news as part of its children's programming to transforming college admissions policies, to changing journalism itself.
Written in the spirit of Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, this book illuminates a serious problem in our society, a problem that will only grow worse as older Americans retire and the "tuned out" young must take their place as leaders.
At a rate never before seen in American history, young adults are abandoning traditional news media. Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News
examines the reasons behind this problem and its consequences for American society. Author David T. Z. Mindich speaks directly to young people to discover why some tune in while others tune out--and how America might help them tune back in.
Based on discussions with young adults from across the United States, Mindich investigates the decline in news consumption over the past four decades. In 1972, 74% of Americans in their mid-30s said they read a newspaper every day. Today, fewer than 28% do so. The average viewer age at CNN is currently about 60 years old. And while many point to the Internet as the best hope for rekindling interest in the news, only 11% of young people list the news as a major reason for logging on--entertainment, e-mail, and Instant Messenger are ranked far higher on their list. Exploring the political, journalistic, and social consequences of this decrease in political awareness, Mindich poses the question: What are the consequences of two successive generations tuning out? He asserts that as young adults abandon the kinds of news needed to make political decisions, they have unwittingly ceded power to their elders. In an engaged and intelligent way, Mindich outlines these problems and proposes real solutions.
An indispensable resource for anyone interested in media or politics, Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News is also ideal for undergraduate and graduate students in journalism, media, communication, political science, American studies, sociology, and education.
About the Author
David T. Z. Mindich
is the chair of the Journalism Department at Saint Michael's College, Vermont. A former assignment editor for CNN, he is the author of Just the Facts: How "Objectivity" Came to Define American Journalism
. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine
, and The Baltimore Sun
Table of Contents
1. A Generational Shift
2. How Tuned Out Are They?
3. Talking with Young People I: Striptease News and the Shifting Balance between Need and Want
4. Talking with Young People II: Who Follows the News and Why
5. Television, the Internet, and the Eclipse of the Local
6. The Decline of General News and the Deliberative Body
7. Conclusion: How to Tune Back In