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Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don't Follow the News Paperback – September 2, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0195161410 ISBN-10: 0195161416

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195161416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195161410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.7 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Media critic and former CNN editor Mindich takes a common belief—"that young people have largely abandoned traditional news"—and thoroughly examines many related, more obscure trends to convincingly argue that most young Americans who are "tuned out" not only threaten their own generation but also "democracy itself." Using a range of research approaches, from first-person interviews to large statistical studies of audience preferences, Mindich explodes a number of myths about why young people have shunned serious news. Foremost among these is the frequent response that younger generations don't read newspapers because they're watching TV news instead (the Internet, he finds, "does not in itself drive news use"). Mindich shows that younger nonreaders are "the least likely to consume TV news," and he is most concerned with the loss of new consumers of print media; while he gives a number of examples of how papers have "dumbed down" the news to attract young audiences, he's acutely aware of how papers struggle between maintaining high standards and sustaining profits. Mindich also presents a devastating analysis of how national television news panders to young viewers with "news-as-entertainment" options. But the book's real virtue is the way Mindich marshals statistics to support his challenge to news organizations "to create a society in which young people feel that reading quality journalism is worthwhile." Illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"This is a very important book. Professor Mindich has undertaken to determine the extent of the news illiteracy of an entire generation of American young people, and to speculate with authorities in broadcasting and print as to what can be done about it. This volume is a handbook for the desperately needed attempt to inspire in the young generation a curiosity that generates the news habit. Their lack of knowledge or even interest in our government bodes a critical danger to democracy as they become the nation's voting majority."--Walter Cronkite


"Mindich presents a devastating analysis of how national television news panders to young viewers with 'news-as-entertainment' options. But the book's real virtue is the way Mindich marshals statistics to support his challenge to news organizations 'to create a society in which young people feel that reading quality journalism is worthwhile.'"--Publishers Weekly



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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Ennis on January 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With all that is going on in the world right now, it's stunning to think how many people are out of touch with day to day news. The newspaper is now nothing more than the front page, maybe an eye-catching headline and the more importantly the horoscope and ads for groceries or cars, maybe the sports schedule or boxscore. TV news is reduced to glitz, glamour, Hollywood dirt, Washington scandal and the dog caught down a drain. At no time in world history has there been so much readily available media to the masses, sometimes unwillingly pumped into your subconscious by airports, banks and post offices on blaring televisions that have no off switch.. and this book eloquently examines why more watch less. To find out why so many have so often decided to watch or read so little news, Mindich hit the road; his journey is related as a classroom of the mind, challenging assumptions and explaining indifference. No one in the business of journalism - and lest no one be fooled, it is a business, a very profitable business for those who control it - and no one who is raising a child in this 21st century should miss a chance to learn why Americans under 40 are 'tuning out.' I heartily recommend educators who want their students to be informed about the world around them, to find a copy for their classroom.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on January 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
David Mindich's new book, "Tuned Out" is a well-researched, if short attempt to tell us something we already know...that younger people, as a rule, pay scant attention to the news. The serious news, that is. Armed with collected data Mindich plows on, like a good college professor, describing in detail how the younger generation has tuned out. Indeed, the narrative often suggests that the reader is in the author's classroom as he dissects the problems associated with the topic. This is not your easy summer (or winter) read.

Anyone who has ever seen the segment on the "Tonight Show" called "Jaywalking" (where Jay Leno asks younger people on the street things about which they should know) will recognize the utter alarm many of us feel at the lack of knowledge these people being interviewed possess. Could these citizens really be THAT far removed from current events and history? They are. Mindich's book is like "Jaywalking" without the fun.

The author does make some excellent points. He devotes part of a chapter to local news and how appallingly bad most of it is. He's certainly right on that score. He also raises a question in his conclusion regarding civics. He writes, "we demand a civics test of everyone who wants to become a U.S. citizen; it seems fitting to have high school students take a news/civics test, too." This is an equally good point. We test citizens-to-be and then let them loose, in a manner of speaking, never to ask anything more of them once they become citizens.

I'm leery, however, of Mindich's assertion that we are in a "crisis". The lack of young people's interest in the news is growing and is disturbing but it is also an evolution which may or may not be as bad as he warns. Still, I recommend the book

for its acknowledgement of the problems that we, who are tuned in, face with those who are not, as a society.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Kitch on September 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As the title of this provocative new book suggests, journalism professor David Mindich has interviewed "young people"-a group he defines widely to include not only college-age students but also members of Generation X who are in their thirties-to find what they know about the world and how they get that information, as well as how they define "news." The answers are not encouraging. But this is not just another hand-wringing exercise, and the book asks broader questions. It explores the reasons why Americans in general have come to feel less of a sense of obligation to follow current events as they are reported in journalism today. The result, as he notes, is civic disengagement as well as disengagement with news media, a loss that diminishes people's sense of national identity as well as their pool of information about national issues.

Mindich contextualizes news against the backdrop of entertainment media with which it increasingly is confused, but avoids collapsing the two into a monolithic concept called "the media." Instead, he recognizes that newspapers, television news, and Internet news site have distinctive characteristics and varying impacts on and relationships with news audiences, in addition to a range of types and quality of news content. Given his own expertise in journalism history, he also provides truly useful context from the past in a sophisticated cultural discussion that draws on sources ranging from Walt Whitman to American Idol.

The central question Mindich asks is important not just with regard to the state of news today; as he points out, the present "tuned-out generations . . . will lead our children and grandchildren." In a larger sense, then, this book is about the future of news and its political, social, and civic functions in American life in an entertainment age and a multimedia world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nora Ruchman on October 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Tuned Out aims to analyze why the under-40 population in America today don't follow the news. The author, David T.Z. Mindich, has clearly done his research with many surveys and reports cited. He talks to many young people, but seems to focus mainly on teens and those in their early twenties. Although the title claims fault with the 30-40 year old population, they are largely ignored.

Mindich does however argue a very good point. Young adults today would much rather watch entertainment news over local, national, or political news. With the internet available almost everywhere, and our country's "I want it now" attitude, people can pick and choose what they do and do not want to read. At the beginning of television, there were only a couple channels to pick from. The news was one of few choices. Today, with hundreds of channels available, there is always something else on that young people can choose over the news. In our celebrity obsessed culture, the latest Britney Spears stunt or which starlet is pregnant is more interesting to readers. Several years ago there were only a couple tabloids, mainly People and US Weekly. The genre has largely expanded with newsstands packed with choices. The younger population seems to feel that they can relate easier to these types of stories as opposed to which political candidate is gunning for higher taxes. Preferring to be blissfully ignorant, they have complete trust in what is going on in the government. Some even might contend that its something they'll deal with when they're older; that its their parents issue.

Mindich offers some solutions to integrating the news into young peoples' daily lives. One resolution is to establish a type of kid's news. Another is to devote less time on the airwaves to scandals.
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