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Monday, December 03, 2007

"The Youth Vote"

Future Majority, a blog that reports on youth voting, put together a set of tips for reporting on "the youth vote."

Tip #1 is my favorite:

The youth vote is not synonymous with students. In fact, students make up only a small part of the eligible youth vote. Only 21% of all 18-29 year olds are currently attending a college or university. That means that when you report on "students", you are leaving out the other 79% of all the individuals that make up the "youth vote." These people serve in our military, are struggling to raise families - and yes, have very different concerns from college students. I understand that makes it difficult for you to cram them into a cookie-cutter story about student aid activism and tuition costs, but you do them and your readers and our democracy a disservice when you limit your coverage to students.

Mike Connery, one of the site's bloggers, put together the tips after the CNN debate in which a college student was forced by producers to ask Hilary Clinton whether she preferred diamonds or pearls, instead of the original question about the Yucca Mountain nuclear situation.

The woman later lambasted CNN for forcing such a fluff question. This whole mini-drama falls in line with a topic of conversation that comes up frequently at Likemind: that "youth" are more mobile, more connected and more able to voice their opinions than any generation before them. This is the only world they know, and are aghast when that right is stepped on--as in the instance of diamonds v pearls. Yes, there's a twinge of self-righteousness that every sprouting adult experiences, but this generation is more able to retaliate when they've been wronged. Are they taking full advantage? Depends on the metrics we're using to judge. If we go back to voting, 49% of 18-29 year olds voted in the last election, a higher percentage than 65+. So watch out, youth have a big stick.

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