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November 8, 2010

Millennials and News Summit

I will be going to Austin, TX later this week for a "Millennials and News" summit at University of Texas. I just made the following graph to orient my own thoughts:

It shows a severe decline in newspaper readership since the early 1970s. The decline is much less pronounced for young adults (ages 18-29): they started out lower but their elders have fallen to meet them. This trend is ground for concern because traditional newspaper readers had many civic virtues, being much more likely to engage in community affairs. I believe the reason for the decline is not a disappearance of civic virtue, but rapid changes in the news business.

The graph also shows a decline in following the news and public affairs "most of the time." As newspaper readership plummeted in the 2000s, following the news did not fall in tandem--because people were switching to new sources of news. But those new sources didn't solve our problem, because attention to the news remains lower than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. For youth, the "attention" rate has been pretty constant, despite rapid changes in the news environment, since 1980. It is also very low by any reasonable standard, with less than 15% regularly following the news.

November 8, 2010 2:15 PM | category: none



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