Academic journal article Journalism History

Tuned Out: Why Americans under 40 Don't Follow the News

Academic journal article Journalism History

Tuned Out: Why Americans under 40 Don't Follow the News

Article excerpt

Mindich, David T.Z. Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. 172 pp. $16.95.

We are always a little suspicious of the next generation. What is up with their music? Their clothes? And why do they not act the way we did when we were younger?

Add something new to the list: a failure to keep up with public affairs. In Tuned Out, David T.Z. Mindich paints a dismal-but not altogether bleak-portrait of how much (and little) young people care and know about the political world. Combining the broad brush strokes of national surveys with careful indepth interviews conducted across the country, he provides a subtitle that sums up his thesis: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow The News. Note the assumption in the subtide. Not whether they follow the news, but why they fail to. Why are his findings not altogether bleak? More on this shortly.

Many of Mindich's answers are hardly surprising, especially to those who teach university journalism courses or who have ever offered a current events test to a roomful of college students. In a way this book is reminiscent of Neu Postman's seminal work from the 1970s, Amusing Ourselves to Death, but Mindich approaches the question from a different perspective, that of Robert Putman's influential book, Bowling Alone. It is not the originality of Mindich's thesis that makes this book an important read but the comprehensive nature of his evidence and, to me, his prescription for fixing the problem.

This is not a history bookperse. He does track changes over time in the public's interest in news and like many scholars-myself included-he owes a great debt to the fine survey work conducted by the Pew Research Center. The longitudinal data he presents are depressing to anyone who believes an informed electorate remains a vital cog in the squeaky wheels of democracy. Simply put, he finds fewer and fewer young people care about the news. "The main change," he argues, "may be that while the entertainment culture has grown, the social need for news has shrunk. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.