With the project “Generation News Avoidance,” Constructive Institute aims to equip the next generation to become critical media consumers, express themselves in public discourse, and actively participate in democracy.
Photo: Peter Damgaard Kristensen
The number of Danes actively avoiding news is on the rise. They turn off, look away, or keep scrolling. So-called news avoidance is becoming a reality, as concluded by the latest report from DR’s Media Research. At the same time, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report from 2023 indicates that 20% of Danes often or occasionally actively avoid the news—a figure that has increased from 15% in 2019. According to Reuters, it is particularly young people who do not actively seek out news. Almost one in three young Danes avoids the news, and this number is rising for the upcoming generation.
One might be tempted to call them “Generation News Avoidance”.
Simultaneously, young people are increasingly opting out of participating in public conversation and debate, as shown by the latest research from Aarhus University. Often, this is not because young people do not want to participate but because they have already had numerous negative experiences with engaging in democratic discourse. This goes especially for young women. Finally, the Reuters Institute Digital News Report from 2023 states that trust in both the media and politicians is decreasing, which is in no way beneficial for democracy. Constructive Institute actively works to counteract this, and therefore, the institute is both pleased, humble, and grateful that the Tuborg Foundation has given the green light for funding of DKK 1.82 million over the next few years.
“Constructive Institute sees a diverse media landscape as a prerequisite for a well-functioning democracy. Therefore, we are concerned that a large portion of Danish youth actively avoids news media. Because we believe that all citizens are best served by keeping up with societal developments, and good critical and constructive journalism is crucial for informed citizens. The increasing news fatigue can have a negative impact on young citizens’ political engagement and their desire to participate in democracy. This is what we aim to counteract with this project,” says founder and CEO of Constructive Institute, Ulrik Haagerup.
Promoting democratic participation
Specifically, Constructive Institute has sought co-financing to equip the next generation for the future of democracy, with the right communication tools and democratic instruments. The goal is to reach 10% of a youth cohort (around 6,000 young people) within a year through a wide range of educational programs and workshops. Additionally, the institute will offer workshops to the country’s educators and develop a learning portal for future use.
“By focusing on young people as media consumers, our hope and ambition are to enable them to understand the role of the media in democracy, while also becoming critical media consumers. Moreover, we want to provide them with concrete tools, both written and oral, to cultivate the desire and skills to participate in public discourse. This includes everyone from boarding school students, high school students in STX, folk high school students, students in technical schools, and students in FGU, as well as students visiting libraries, and more,” emphasizes Ulrik Haagerup.
At the Tuborg Foundation, the rationale for the grant emphasizes that the project aims to promote young people’s democratic participation in society.
“Democracy cannot be taken for granted and must be reinvented by each new generation. Young people play a crucial role in making democracy vibrant and strong. News is a prerequisite for following the debate and participating in democracy, and we are pleased to support a project that encourages young people to engage in constructive debate while also making them more aware of the role of the media in societal development and political processes,” says Peter Giacomello, Secretary-General of the Tuborg Foundation.