Abandoning the news.

The Carnegie Corporation has released a report, Abandoning the News, that discusses the future of the news business, and the news isn’t good:

In short, the future of the U.S. news industry is seriously threatened by the seemingly irrevocable move by young people away from traditional sources of news.

The report suggests that newspapers and the six o’clock news are no longer the way this group gets their news:

Clearly, young people don’t want to rely on the morning paper on their doorstep or the dinnertime newscast for up-to-date information; in fact, they—as well as others—want their news on demand, when it works for them. And, say many experts, in this new world of journalism, young people want a personal level of engagement and want those presenting the news to them to be transparent in their assumptions, biases and history.

And information is increasingly coming via the internet:

Already, Internet portals—widely used, general interest web sites such as Yahoo.com and MSN.com that include news streams all day, every day—have emerged in the survey as the most frequently cited daily news source, with 44 percent of the group using portals at least once a day for news.


“Young people are more curious than ever but define news on their own terms,” says Jeff Jarvis, who is president of Advance.net, a unit of Advance Publications, and who publishes a widely read blog, Buzzmachine.com. “They get news where they want it, when they want it. Media is about control now. We used to wait for the news to come to us. Now news waits for us to come to it. That’s their expectation. We get news on cable and on the Internet any time, any place.”

Some suggest that this will lead to problems in the future:

Despite these innovations, some experts still warn that the news business—and with it, perhaps, the nation itself—faces a troubled future. As David Mindich, author of Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don’t Follow the News (Oxford University Press, 2004) concluded in a recent interview on an industry web site that today’s young citizens “are still just as thoughtful, intelligent—and I would argue, literate—as ever before. What has changed is that young people no longer see a need to keep up with the news.” Says Mindich in his recent book: “America is facing the greatest exodus of informed citizenship in its history.”

I’ve noticed though that my kids are quite well informed about what is going on currently. In fact, even though we are currently living in Canada, they are probably more aware of what is happening in the U.S. They get information from Yahoo!, MSN, blogs to a certain extent, and a nightly dose of The Daily Show. And apparently they aren’t unique:

A study of 18-to-29-year-olds carried out as part of “Declare Yourself, ” a national nonpartisan effort to register voters for last year’s election, reported that 25 percent of young voters named the Internet as the first or second most important source for news compared to just 15 percent for newspapers. In that same study, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on the Comedy Central network was identified as the most trusted of the TV anchors among the group that chose the Internet as their top news source, while among the entire group, Stewart tied with then-NBC anchor Tom Brokaw and came in ahead of ABC’s Peter Jennings and former CBS anchor Dan Rather when asked about who they “trust the most” to provide “information about politics and politicians.”

I don’t think that these people aren’t interested in the news. I just think that they are no longer willing to passively accept prepackaged biased media programming with someone else deciding what the content and relative importance will be. They want to decide what constitutes news, and they now have the tools at their disposal to do just that. They don’t just want to watch – they want to participate.