Newspapers and Citizenship: Young Adults' Subjective Experience of Newspapers

K. Barnhurst, E. Wartella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


American newspaper executives and conservative critics complain that young adults who don't read newspapers and lack a knowledge of basic facts may be unprepared to become informed citizens. Studies also correlate newspaper reading with political interest. Young readers, who begin with comics and turn to newspapers for entertainment, do not find political news meaningful. This study explored what the newspaper means to young adults. Some 164 college students wrote autobiographies of their newspaper experiences. Using qualitative and demographic methods, this analysis constructs a composite narrative of how young adults are introduced to newspapers as children, interact with them in the school years, and eventually become regular users. Although they acknowledge the received definition of newspapers as factual sources for citizens, young adults experience the newspaper as a ritual, a symbol, and a tool. They consider the facts in newspapers boring because they deal with contexts unrelated to their lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-209
JournalCritical Studies In Mass Communication
StatePublished - 1991


Dive into the research topics of 'Newspapers and Citizenship: Young Adults' Subjective Experience of Newspapers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this