Tell Me Again About Those Kids Not Reading

The stupid’s now gotten bad enough that everybody’s mocking it, and “pivot to video” has become almost as much of a joke as “longform” and “hyperlocal” ever were (good stories don’t need nicknames) and maybe, just maybe, some facts can break through the nonsense: 

When it comes to technology’s influence on America’s young adults, reading is not dead – at least not the news. When asked whether one prefers to read, watch or listen to their news, younger adults are far more likely than older ones to opt for text, and most of that reading takes place on the web.

Overall, more Americans prefer to watch their news (46%) than to read it (35%) or listen to it (17%), a Pew Research Center survey found earlier this year. But that varies dramatically by age. Those ages 50 and older are far more likely to prefer watching news over any other method: About half (52%) of 50- to 64-year-olds and 58% of those 65 and older would rather watch the news, while roughly three-in-ten (29% and 27%, respectively) prefer to read it. Among those under 50, on the other hand, roughly equal portions – about four-in-ten of those ages 18-29 and ages 30-49 – opt to read their news as opt to watch it.

Young people read news more than older folks, it’s just that we Olds don’t often give them credit for it being “reading” because they’re doing it on their phones or tablets. Quelle surprise. I have quarrels with the survey, namely that my definition of “news” and yours can be vastly different (as can my definition and CNN’s), but let’s talk about the good news because there’s been precious little of it lately.

Basically, shut up, Grandpa, why don’t you get off MY lawn for once?

This was my favorite tweet about the survey:

I don’t know why it’s a revelation, that if you want people to buy your product, your product should not suck. Most TV news sucks, audibly and unashamedly, the efforts of individual journalists notwithstanding. The clichéd format on a local level forces bad journalism as often as it produces good TV, and a brilliant piece of footage isn’t the rarity it was before camera phones and YouTube. Most TV news SITES are bloated, heaving messes with borked search engines, loud auto-play and no coherent tagging system.

When the reckoning for this era’s journalistic missteps comes (please Santa Jesus, let it be soon), and we make the list of grievances to be redressed, it’s going to look something like this:

  1. Political talk radio
  2. Talk radio generally
  3. Cable news generally
  4. Cable news Sunday shows full of Republicans
  5. Cable news crime coverage
  6. Panel shows that pretend a debate between a Republican and a Republican is a debate
  7. Cable news taking viewers’ calls live on the air
  8. TV news reading people’s tweets live on the air instead of interviewing them
  9. Nancy Grace

It’s really no wonder younger folks tune this shit out. Between paying off student loans and fighting fascism and their four side hustles they don’t really have a lot of time, so sitting through all of that to learn what’s actually happening when they could pull up the WaPo app and get it all just seems silly.


2 thoughts on “Tell Me Again About Those Kids Not Reading

  1. I’m not young by a long shot (57 last May) but I stopped watching the network news probably 10 years ago. Just recently, I got rid of cable altogether. I do miss the local news but I can’t see paying over $100 a month for a half-hour of laughter & the weather & some old TV shows on MeTV. I get ALL my news & information on the internet. Many of my sources are from overseas.

  2. Heh…Nancy Grace 😀

    Yeah, it looks like the age of talking heads news is slowly fading out.

    I don’t know how representative I am, but I still regularly watch the more responsible news shows (not you Chuck Todd, and really not you Chris Matthews. There is a special level of hell where you two will continue your careers through eternity), and I will watch segments from across the spectrum so long as they have something significant to add. So yeah I show up in the viewership stats for Fox & Friends and Alex Jones too. Thing is, I am among that 12% who only watch online.For one thing it is free, and I comprehensively block ads and cookies. Even without the commercial segments and the serious journalism, the only way the cable news experience is at all bearable is to jump over the pundit pieces. There is no functional difference between listening to Michael Moore opine about a policy point and a cab driver at 2 AM on your way home from the airport.

    In short, I am a free rider on the cable news system, so no ad revenue. I selectively consume, which renders about 1/3rd at minimum of their production wasted effort. I am also loosely attached to the brand. If they ever erect a paywall or a whitelist barrier I will just drop those sources from direct consumption and move on to another channel or to secondary placement, such as YouTube.

    How is this a sustainable business model?

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