Resource of the week: Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement  

"I was impressed with the wide array of initiatives presented through press releases, mock interviews and conversations during the course of the conference . . . .
What you're doing - the learning opportunities - are just great!"

Mark Ferguson,
Curriculum and Development Specialist, Youth on Board

"You truly provided an invaluable service to us."

Amy Krizon, Program Coordinator, United Way of Venango County, Inc.

Arsalyn Program
Ludwick Family
PO Box 1796
Glendora, CA 91740
Tel  (626) 914 5404
Fax (626) 852 0776

Arsalyn, a non-partisan
program of Ludwick
Family Foundation,
promotes youth civic
and political engagement.

Navigating the Media Maze:
Informing Your Vote and Getting Out Your Message

June 23, 2006 to June 25, 2006
Sheraton National, Arlington, Virginia

The problem The consequences
The rising generation What must be done?
Our proposal What’s the plan?
What will it cost? How do I apply?
Planning for participation

The Problem

Overall, young people are neither simply apathetic nor completely uninformed about public issues. Recently, surveyed college students overwhelmingly considered political engagement an effective means of solving important issues both nationally and in their communities. Despite all this good news, since 1972 when the voting age was lowered to 18, an average of less than one-third of eligible young Americans turned out to vote. In fact, with the exception of the 2004 election, the voting rate among young people has been continually declining.

Immediately after the 2004 election the San Francisco Chronicle asserted "young voters preferred Kerry, but turnout wasn't high." However, by January 2 the Pittsburgh Post Gazette dispelled rumors of dreadful youth turnout by showing that participation among young people jumped 9% and was the highest it had been since 1972 when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. The first reaction of many mainstream news outlets, especially before adequate statistical analysis was available, was to dismiss the youth vote. Why does the media express cynicism about youth political participation.

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The Consequences

Democracy involves open discussion and an interactive search for an answer to the question: what is the best public policy? Democracy allows all people to participate in the dialogue that creates the society in which we all live. Without participation there can be no deliberation. But, without sufficient information and the ability to understand that information, deliberation can come to a standstill.

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The Rising Generation

If our way of government is to continue to improve and grow into a stronger democracy it will require the participation of the rising generation. Youthful enthusiasm and energy can often serve as a tonic, accelerating necessary change. At the same time, impatience and zeal can endanger deliberation when they lead to an unqualified insistence on having one's way with little consideration of other viewpoints or reasonable caveats. How can young people learn to use the media to inform themselves regarding the political process? How can young people learn to be conscientious consumers of information without becoming cynical?

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What Must Be Done?

If we are to reap the benefits of deliberative democracy and engage young people in political participation, we must foster the conditions that allow for a respectful exchange of ideas while reasoning together on the merits of those ideas.

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Our Proposal

In response to this challenge, Arsalyn is convening a national conference geared toward helping young people answer the following questions:
  • In a world filled with a variety of authoritative voices, how can you get other people to hear your message?
  • According to a study by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Fox News viewers are more likely to identify themselves as Republicans than viewers of other news networks. Pew also notes that CNN viewers are more likely to be self-identified Democrats. Does this matter? Should Americans worry that their fellow citizens are obtaining news and other important political information from outlets that may uncritically cater to their preconceived notions? Do news outlets purposefully cater to their viewers' preconceived notions?
  • Has the country atomized into countless market segments leading to the end of older examples of mass media news delivery, i.e., the big three nightly news programs or major newspapers? Is this a disaster or the dawn of a new, more informed era?
  • What changes will new technology bring to the dissemination of political information? Do we have any reason to feel hopeful about the possibility of a more informed electorate?
  • How skeptical, or cynical, should Americans feel about the information they receive from mass media news outlets? Is there anyone we can trust anymore? Were media outlets ever truly objective?

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What’s the Plan?

Arsalyn will invite approximately 100 young people ages 17-20 to our conference for an intensive two-day long program devoted to these goals. We will kick off our conference with a keynote address discussing "The Massless Media" and its effects on the youth vote. Panels will discuss the challenges facing the news media and how young people can become active, informed consumers and producers of news for themselves and their peers. Workshops will help young people learn how to integrate the information they receive and to use existing media outlets to inform the public of important issues facing young people today.

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What Will it Cost?

Short answer: very little. Arsalyn will provide successful applicants with food, lodging, conference materials and reimbursement for documented travel expenses up to $200. Some additional funds may be available based on demonstrated financial need. Please contact Arsalyn for more information.

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How Do I Apply?

To apply for the conference, you must be between the ages of 17 and 20 on June 24, 2006. Fill out the attached application or apply online at The application deadline is May 5, 2006.

Successful applicants will be notified via e-mail by May 12, 2006. Selected applicants and/or their guardians will be asked to sign a release limiting the liability of Arsalyn Program-Ludwick Family Foundation with regard to conference participants.

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Planning for Participation

Successful applicants should plan to arrive at the Sheraton National, Arlington, Virginia, on the afternoon of Friday, June 25, 2006. Conference activities will begin Friday evening at 7:00 PM and continue all day Saturday and Sunday. Check out and departure will be Monday, June 26, 2006 at noon (12:00 PM).

Participants will be required to attend all conference activities.

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