Level of Exposure to News Outlets on Youth Awareness and Democratic Participation

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Effect of News Outlet and Level of Exposure to News Outlets on Youth Awareness and Democratic Participation Nova Zorok
Megan Jones
COM 4210: Research Methods in
Communication Studies and Public Relations
Winter 2012

Abstract

Against popular consensus, recent studies show that young people are interested in global and local news. Treating the young population as serious news consumers and addressing their needs are predicted to increase newspaper readership, whereas the industry currently has to compete with TV and internet. It is also apparent, through the studies outlined, that awareness of current events and democratic participation suffer as a result of the lack of credible news tailored for the young audience. This study seeks to quantify youth news readership and qualify the relationship between those rates and democratic participation.

It is important to continue to captivate a young audience’s interest in their surroundings and the factors that will dictate the essence of their daily lives and futures. Researching the media news outlets that young people choose or do not choose and the time allotted for news exposure can identify problems in the news industry in reaching youth markets. It is important to engage each next generation in political affairs, creating citizens that are informed decision-makers. By inciting youth interest in traditional, in-depth news outlets, the next generations will be equipped to act as responsible tenants of our society.

The average daily circulation of 836 papers reporting to the Audit Bureau has declined 0.1% in 2004, says the Newspaper Association of America. Only 37% of these papers reported gains. According to Columbia Journalism Review, this decline is greatest among youth and younger baby boomers, (as quoted in Atkins, 2005). Though Chicago Tribune’s RedEye. has 280,000 readers and numerous other youth opinion editorials have been relatively successful, Atkins’ college students proved to be attuned to current issues and willing/able to write for established mature papers should they be granted more voice to do so. Most Philadelphia newspaper articles were found to have been written by 40-50 year-olds, even when content was about young people. Nine of Atkins students were published that semester due to their voiced desire to cover their generation’s perception of events. By involving students and youths in newspapers, readership in those groups should accelerate.

Lewis (2008) reassesses the decline of newspaper readership, especially among youths. 2/3 of 700 news editors surveyed, believed that this is the biggest threat to the survival of papers. The new research conducted in this article looks at two new factors: perception and intention. The researchers use the uses and gratifications theory as a lens to understand youths’ perception of news, and the reasoned action theory to understand youths’ intentions of where they will be getting their news in the future. They posit that behavioral intentions (independent variable) can predict actions (dependant variable) in the future. Two research questions are asked: RQ 1: “How do young adults perceive news, and what are their sources for news?” RQ 2: “What news sources do young adults expect to use five years from now and how are those sources related to their perceptions of news today?” Students were asked how often they sought news sources, and what news sources they sought. The same was done for RQ 2, but with regard to how students thought their news habits would be in five years. Most predicted that they would rely more heavily on traditional news and less on social media in the future, with online sources taking the lead. Those with more positive, personal and social connections to news have more propensities to consume traditional media in the future. Those who thought negatively about the news are predicted to continue to rely on social media.

Jarvis et al. (2009) believe that Democracy is protected, in...
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