First-time voters want *less* election news

September 8, 2008

yawning-boy.jpgI’m skipping the attempt at a witty first sentence and going straight to the press release:

Young adults often click away from 2008 election news online because they feel the sites bombard them with too much information and too many choices, according to a new study released by Northwestern University’s Media Management Center.

Here’s more: The MMC survey of 89 young people between the age of 17 and 22 — who are eligible to vote for president for the first time in 2008 — found that while they are interested in the elections and want information about the candidates and issues, they don’t want to spend much time following day-to-day developments. However, they do appreciate news sites that help them — and other new voters — understand the basics about the candidates, issues and election process.

The big problem, apparently, is the “too muchness” of all that coverage. Specifically:

  • Too many things competing for attention, without clues about what is most important;
  • Too many details;
  • Too wordy; not distilled to the essence;
  • Too many choices;
  • Too much text, too high a percentage of text to graphics, or a screen of mostly text;
  • Site features that they don’t immediately understand;
  • Pages or stories that go on and on and on.

The study recommends:

  • Place huge emphasis on clear, helpful, immediately understandable organization and design that signals what to focus on and conveys the relative importance of offerings on a page. Short, meaningful, compelling headlines are essential.
  • Offer content in manageable layers and chunks, letting the reader decide how deep to go. When stories go more than a page, young adults tend to tune out. However, if stories maintain their interest enough to click on a link, the millennials want some substance.
  • Have a lot but display a little. It’s better for this audience to be selective in what is presented (with links to more information) than to overwhelm with “too much.”
  • Concentrate most on information resources that help young people (and other new voters) understand the basics about the candidates, the issues and the election process.

Essentially, the study appears to be recommending better editing. But it also sounds like something that new wave band Devo said more concisely many years ago in a fairly popular song:

“Freedom of choice is what you got. Freedom from choice is what you want.”

(Yawning boy photo: Reuters)

7 comments

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Sweet Devo reference!

Posted by Carol | Report as abusive

BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA IS NOT READY TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

SARAH PALIN IS NOT READY TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

The difference is —- only one of them is running for the job! GO JOHN McCAIN!

WHY IS OBAMA VETTING THE “VICE PRESIDENTIAL” CANDIDATE? IS HE NUTS?

I find it interesting that Obama NOW regrets not serving our country — NOW he wants to explain his “above my paygrade” remark at Saddleback. I guess he couldn’t think fast enough without his teleprompter and 300 advisors. What about his voting for infanticide? He will say and do anything to get what he wants — Sorry, but it’s too little — too late!

OBAMA HAS 30 LAWYERS IN ALASKA VETTING GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN. HE’S RUNNING AROUND LIKE A CHICKEN WITH HIS HEAD CUT OFF! WHY IS HE AFRAID OF THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR “VICE PRESIDENT”?

THE DNC AND BIASED MEDIA NEVER VETTED HIM — IF THEY HAD, HILLARY WOULD BE THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE. HE’S COMING ACROSS LIKE A BLUNDERING IDIOT!

Gov. Palin has more executive experience than Obama or Biden since she has been a councilwomen, a mayor and is now the governor of the State of Alaska along with being the head of the Alaska National Guard; whereas Obama has been a Community Organizer, got into the Illinois State Senate by disqualifying his democratic and republican opponents and thus ran alone for the seat. Then he became a Senator in Congress. Since that time, he has spent most of his time ‘running for president’! IF HE CAN’T DO HIS SENATE JOB — HE SURELY CAN’T LEAD OUR COUNTRY!

Governor Palin brings a lot to the table! Most of our Presidents in recent history have been governors and not senators so when you compare the Democratic ticket, all you have is Senators who never ran a business or a city or a state. At least McCain gained some of his experience while in the military. Remember Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush were all governors when they became president.

OBAMA’S PHILOSOPHY IS: “DENY AND DESTROY”. Don’t pay for your mistakes. Deny ever hearing or seeing anything. If you don’t want to pay for your mistakes, just get rid of them — or blame someone else!

WE ONLY HAVE A FEW MORE WEEKS TO LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT WHO BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA REALLY IS. HOW MUCH MORE “HIDDEN BAGGAGE” DOES HE COME WITH? HE IS TOO RISKY!

I’M VOTING FOR THE HONORABLE JOHN McCAIN IN NOVEMBER!
________________________________________
STOP THE DRAMA – NO OBAMA!
GET A BRAIN – VOTE McCAIN!

Posted by EAST COAST - USA | Report as abusive

just one more thing that the youth demand be dumbed down to their level. and then when our news media isn’t getting the job done in conveying the information it is supposed to, the government will come in and “fix” it.
i vaguely remember this happening at something called ‘public schools’

Posted by karlthomas | Report as abusive

The country that lives by the sound bite, dies by it.

Posted by RLM | Report as abusive

Does anyone remember the “Keating 5″? Phil Gramm and his wife’s Enron connection? How about the fact that McCain has changed campaign managers three times in the past 19 months. Or, that he changed his campaign’s theme from “Experience” to “Change” at the RNC.

That’s either a desperate “win at all cost” strategy, or he thinks the American voting public is simple and slow witted. Which one are you?

Posted by JamiWayne | Report as abusive

This is the inevitable result of years of underfunding education by the GOP. And so we get 8 years of George W. Bush, remember him? The only functioning democracy according to Thomas Jefferson is an informed democracy. We get the government we deserve… However, Obama is finally exposing the parade of lies, fear, and anger in St. Paul (holding “Service” signs while mocking Obama’s community service … that’s class). And no mention of issues, because as the article above states: too much information. Lying is cheaper anyway. Those who obtain power through such means have no allegiance to the People or the Constitution.

Posted by Matt Brenner | Report as abusive

There is not much to understand about this election. This is very much like 2000 or 2004.
We are going to reelect George Bush wearing bright red lipstick and will enjoy four more years of economic slowdown and more US soldiers being killed.

Posted by ira waxmann | Report as abusive