Monthly Archives: December 2007

Don’t Overlook the Millennials

A visit to the homepage for RocktheVote prominently displays news that young voters are”surging” at the polls. From there you can find a link to a November article in the Orange, the paper at Syracuse University, that presented the findings from a recent report saying today’s college students, or “millennials“, prefer community service over politics.

The report found that while more young people are voting, some see it as a symbolic act rather than a meaningful way to create change.

Reports of corruption, war, terrorism and widening economic gaps are making today’s generation more thoughtful and desirous for real social improvement, but they seem to prefer taking action themselves than to rely on a politician to get the job done.

USA Today reported in its defining article on millennials that “A study of more than 260,000 college freshmen released this year by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute found that 66.3% of freshmen surveyed last fall said it is “essential or very important” to help others, the highest percentage to say so in 25 years.” It went on to confirm that this generation volunteers more, but believes less in voting.

Rolling Stone CoverHowever, some “generation next”-ers exchanged email messages online that were incredibly insightful on current politics. About a Rolling Stone Cover preceding this past November election, Annika Carlson wrote “you know there’s something big percolating in the minds of Americans. People want change — and what’s more, they’re planning to make it happen on Nov. 7 by voting for Democrats.” She cites a failed “stay the course”plan in Iraq and unbelievable scandals by Republicans as catalysts for young voters to take action at the polls. She thinks that will make a difference.

“Democrats…are providing innovative solutions to the problems of regular people in areas such as health care, economic growth and education. It’s time for a change, and Democrats are standing out as the right choice for America,” she said.

John Della Volpe argues that the more millennials get involved in anything, the more they’ll participate in politics. His site SocialSphere reports that he seems to be right, seeing an increase in young voters participating in the 2004 election and “in 2006 as more votes were cast by people under 30 than by voters over 65.”

The blog post goes on to say most of the current presidential candidates are mishandling their approach, if they even have one, to winning favor with young students. So who has their favor at the moment?

CBS News takes it for granted that millennials favor Obama. In an article more about Obama’s appeal to generation Xers, a quick glance at the youngest voting population doesn’t seem to give them much credit for thinking about politics, but rather that they are seen as a group to market to.

“Obama’s boomer campaign managers prefer to sell him to the Millennials as a cool brand name with its very own catchy slogan, “Generation Obama,” that they can embrace. …It may be one reason X-ers have not overwhelmingly embraced his candidacy. Hillary Clinton is way out ahead in polls among all age categories except the Millennials, who favor Obama.”

It may be a good idea to keep a closer eye on this segment of the voting public. Just like older generations tend to under estimate the power of the trends this group is savvy to, they may not be aware that millennials are reading, watching, capturing, blogging, posting and sharing their thoughts about politics at unheard of speed.

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Election coverage: take the good with the bad

I new if I read through enough comments on Adaora Udoji and John Hockenberry’s blog “Your Billion Dollar President,” I’d find the one I dreaded–that “what’s wrong” with the presidential election is the media’s fault. A recent comment by “James” didn’t pull punches:

I believe that we need to silence the infotainment community by dissallowing their profit from the dicsussion and polling process. Why are we even having a conversation about “billion” dollar presidents? Because the infotainment community, yourselves included, has fully recognized and exploited the commercial value of the political race. the media should not be allowed to profit from the democracy.

It’s hard to fault James for concluding that journalists are profiteers when the same site promotes their new morning show with all the best cliches: ” just the beginning,” “in partnership with,” “an entirely new sound in public radio,” “unprecedented personality-driven format,” “Up-to-the-minute,” ” charismatic hosts,” “vibrant team” and “in-depth news coverage.”

That’s laying it on pretty thick, but I would encourage James to dig a little deeper in the sight and see what the internet and new ideas in journalism are bringing to the front: more real responses from real people. I happen to love the water cooler videos and think the energy and humor the two hosts bring to the project helps regular folks on the street loosen up and make some real comments.

If we didn’t have crazy journalists willing to do unusual things like bundling themselves up against the cold and position themselves by a watercooler in the middle of a busy downtown, asking passersby to stop and chat about the elections for everyone’s “infotainment,” then how else would we learn what the rest of the country is thinking and make more informed choices?

As for election ringtones…my favorite was the Jackson 5 take on Hilary’s name, but what if the best sounding ringtone doesn’t match your election choice? We need an undecided tone, I think. Let’s just see how that plays out.

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Art for Godiva’s Sake?

scotch ad

[above: bombing with bucks, Madison Ave. style]

Reading Randy Kennedy’s article documenting the end of an era in the history of graffiti art as the Spring St. haven makes way for bajillion-dollar condos, struck me with great irony after my daily ride in the shuttle at Times Square. There, today, I was confronted with a new kind of graffiti–the bought and paid for, revenue generating kind sanctioned by the MTA as advertising.

City officials call  graffiti art–created without permission and without generating ad dollars–vandalism or defacement and spend tax money to remove it from subway cars or non-designated walls.  Now advertisers can enjoy a new double standard when it comes to deciding what is good for the public .  Ads running in the shuttle transform the car into an encapsulating advertisement and make it part of the barrage of advertising hitting New Yorkers inside taxis, on the sides of buildings, in the grocery store isle, before viewing videos….it never ends.

Almost a year ago, when David Dunlap began lamenting the great 10-year deal Viacom scored with the MTA to place their wrap-ads in the shuttle area, officials planning the ad-bombs actually told him they didn’t want to overwhelm anyone.

Huh? I can think of a few focus group members who might not appreciate a huge alcoholic beverage pouring over their heads. So the dilemma is really whether or not we throw out the “might overwhelm someone” argument altogether and allow ads and graffiti to claim the pristine public space of sidewalks, air space, elevator doors, park walls, intersections…..  Just like we tolerate audio noise, New Yorkers may have to up their tolerance to visual noise.

If graffiti is the city’s “broken window” then what is a subway car full of spilling scotch or station pillars covered in luxury chocolate? The city’s  “overspending debt crisis?”

train

[bombing old school: the artists’ way]

godiva

[Chocolatier tagging?]

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