Young people should read (the newspaper)!

by Maximilian Rudolph

How important reading is and how digital media impacts our life in democracies

A liberal mediation with changes in phrasing and structure from German to English.

Young people like me don’t read newspapers anymore. That’s a simple fact. According to prof. Haller only 25 percent out of the people younger than 25 read newspapers regularly. That is to be compared to the 60 percent from some years ago.

But how come?

They say the articles don’t have any topics of their interest, though prof. Haller says that argument can more or less be neglected – they will get older and their interest will shift towards the topics discussed in newspapers. The much bigger problem are the faults in our education systems. Young people have more and more difficulties reading, especially when the texts get complicated. Neither parents nor schools are a helpful source of motivation in that regard, especially in the lower social classes. That goes together with the increasing integration of mobile phones and other digital media in our daily lives that sometimes (and increasingly) has addictive character.

For the people that consume such a big amount of online-media “relaxed” offline-media such as newspapers or books are very “hard to [even] bear”.


There has to be a reason for that

Are newspapers even relevant today? Yes, very much so. Studies have shown a clear relationship between reading newspapers and political engagement. And that is extraordinarily important for a healthy democracy. A democracy can only ever be as good as its citizens. On top of that, regular reading outside of your normal fields of interest widens your horizon and makes you a more educated and “versatile” person. A newspaper can give you a quick overview of what is happening close and far from you. Heller even calls them “universal media”. A good newspaper shows that all of the currently important knowledge can be contained within just “28 or 32 or 36 […] pages”. Plus: it doesn’t need a battery or apps to function – total flexibility.

Being able to read a newspaper is a cultural technique the youth has almost completely forgotten. And, sadly, it is not being taught either. The young people always stay in the same contexts. They only learn about the things they already know.

“Without a search term, Google will stay empty”.



Michael Haller / Nadine von Wille, in: Braunschweiger Zeitung, August 23, 2013.
A liberal mediation with changes in phrasing and structure from German to English by Maximilian Rudolph.
All rights on this Text belong to Michael Haller, Nadine von Wille and the Braunschweiger Zeitung.

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