TUNED OUT: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News

David T. Z. Mindich, Author . Oxford Univ. $25 (172p) ISBN 978-0-19-516140-3

Media critic and former CNN editor Mindich takes a common belief—"that young people have largely abandoned traditional news"—and thoroughly examines many related, more obscure trends to convincingly argue that most young Americans who are "tuned out" not only threaten their own generation but also "democracy itself." Using a range of research approaches, from first-person interviews to large statistical studies of audience preferences, Mindich explodes a number of myths about why young people have shunned serious news. Foremost among these is the frequent response that younger generations don't read newspapers because they're watching TV news instead (the Internet, he finds, "does not in itself drive news use"). Mindich shows that younger nonreaders are "the least likely to consume TV news," and he is most concerned with the loss of new consumers of print media; while he gives a number of examples of how papers have "dumbed down" the news to attract young audiences, he's acutely aware of how papers struggle between maintaining high standards and sustaining profits. Mindich also presents a devastating analysis of how national television news panders to young viewers with "news-as-entertainment" options. But the book's real virtue is the way Mindich marshals statistics to support his challenge to news organizations "to create a society in which young people feel that reading quality journalism is worthwhile." Illus. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-19-516141-0
Open Ebook - 187 pages - 978-0-19-534762-3
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