CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

The Impact of Local News on Youth Political Engagement

October 30th, 2018
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In a new blog post for 22×20—a media literacycampaign co-led by CIRCLE that aims to get the 22 million newly eligible voters in 2020 ready to participate in elections—CIRCLE’s Director of Impact Abby Kiesa uses data from our exclusive youth poll to explore the relationship between local news and political engagement.

Our data show that almost a third of respondents (31%) have found local news helpful in preparing to vote in the 2018 midterms. That may come as a surprise to some who think young people pay no attention to local news. At the same time, our poll finds that local media can do much better in reaching segments of young people who would, theoretically, get the most out of its coverage. Only 33% of  youth who are new to voting, and could therefore benefit from local information about how, when and where to vote, say they found local news helpful. Slightly more, but still just over half (55%) of young people who are paying a lot of attention to Congressional campaigns say they found local news helpful, despite the fact that local outlets are likely offering the most coverage of House, Senate, and statewide races. Since local issues are often an on-ramp to engagement in many settings, these data points highlight a series of challenges—and opportunities—to explore models for how local media can think about younger audiences, including by partnering with local youth organizations.

Our survey also finds a correlation between the ways some youth are learning about the election and whether they’ve found local media helpful. In particular, young people who have heard about the election from neighbors and from print news media are the most likely to agree that the local news has helped prepare them to vote this year. In the case of print media, this may not be that surprising, since it suggests that the local paper is an important source of information for these youth. In the case of hearing about the election from neighbors, its relation to finding local news helpful raises many questions, chief among them whether this is an example of how talking about and discussing information facilitates information turning into action, as research suggests. Access is also important: youth in non-metro areas are less likely to report finding local news helpful, likely because there is less local media where they live.

Read the Full Post at 22×20

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