Media study: Don’t ‘bombard’ young voters with election news

Via Romenesko: Young voters don’t want too much information — and often feel overwhelmed by the deluge of election coverage on news sites, according to a Northwestern University Media Management Center study released Tuesday. The study of Chicago-area “millennials,” age 17-22, urged news outlets to deliver content more in keeping with the ways young voters want to consume information in an environment rich with competitions for time and attention.

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

The report found that while millennials 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 Center had suggestions for designing with millenials in mind:

• 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.

Read full report here [pdf].

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Ernest Luning

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