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October 4, 2006

glasses that are partly full

I don't mean to dwell too long on our new survey (described yesterday), but I find the press coverage an interesting study in subjectiveness. Based on the very same release and oral presentation ...

Matt Stearns and Rick Montgomery wrote in the Kansas City Star: "Apathetic, detached? Not todays young people. A study finds that 15- to 25-year-olds are more involved in their communities than expected." Their lead is: "Turns out, the seminal rock band The Who was correct: Gloomy stereotypes about civic detachment to the contrary, the kids are all right."

But David Alexander wrote in Reuters (picked up in the Boston Globe and elsewhere: "Few U.S. youths involved in civic life: study." His lead is: "Nearly two-thirds of young Americans are disengaged from political and civic life and only a quarter regularly vote, a survey released on Tuesday showed."

And the Philadelphia Inquirer printed Matt Stearns' piece under this headline: "Younger folks do their civic duties, a study confirms; Involvement for those 15 to 25 in some cases neared elders' levels."

So which is it? All of the above, of course. It's a mixed story, as we realized when we thought about how to pitch it. I did hope that the headlines would be positive (although I'm not at all surprised to see the negative ones). Perhaps there's no one valid way to capture a complex picture in one short phrase, which is what a headline must be. But we think a positive summary is closer to the truth in this case.

October 4, 2006 3:18 PM | category: none

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