Google famously encourages employees to take breaks from their workload and engage in wholly unrelated, but pro-social, activities, such as solving puzzles or exercising. Google employees also may spend one-fifth of their work week devoted entirely to research of their choosing. Ongoing, diverse information consumption is part of the innovator’s life. Linus Pauling, the only innovator ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, once said, “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”
Modern news organizations must do more to court young audiences, of course; the task of showing young people journalism’s worth doesn’t fall solely on educators or essayists like me. The fact that NBC’s Meet the Press moved its Sunday broadcast from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. EST suggests they’ve all but publicly quit attempts to court slumbering twenty-somethings.
Not all news is as inaccessible and stodgy to young Americans as the Sunday wonk shows, though, and young people would likely consume more news of current events if arguments urging them to do so were, well, more current.
Few young Americans are adrenalized by words like “civic responsibility,” or “classic democratic theory,” but when the benefits of a life of news consumption are expressed as fuel for creative motion, young people’s ears may perk up a bit more from beneath their headphones.