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This post was guest written by Courtney Resnicky, a senior at Wright State University.
Millennials—those born between 1981 and 1998—have now surpassed Baby Boomers by half a million, according to PEW research. While this may not seem like a huge number, the historic election taking place in November means that Millennials have more of an opportunity than any other generation to make their voices heard and bring about historic change in our nation. But how is this generation being portrayed in the media during this controversial election season? Well, it seems many articles are portraying them quite negatively. Why such negative coverage? Simple: Low voter turn-out. Although college students comprise of 31% of Americans eligible to vote, only around 46% of registered college voters actually make it to the polls according to The Christian Science Monitor. The confusion this causes about the desires of Millennials is clear from media monitoring—numerous articles and surveys attempt to parse out what Millennials are thinking without being able to see coinciding results in the way that they vote.
Millennials have the numbers to heavily influence the election and news stories abound about the assorted ways Millennials are making their voices heard. However, if Millennials truly want to have their say in the structure of this nation and finally earn a more positive repertoire in the media, then they need to vote. Instead of encouraging news stories about protests, college students can strive to show that these protests are leading cohorts to the polls in order to vote for change. Rather than ignoring news stories about low voter turn-out, Millennials can show up in overwhelming numbers and change the representation of our generation to a positive one where everyone is excited to be involved.
Simply raising the voter turn-out may not be enough to influence the representation of college students in the media, but there is a possible solution. Millennials have access to a diverse amount of information about the presidential candidates. Media monitoring with LexisNexis Newsdesk shows that usage of social media to publish and read political articles has skyrocketed, with 31.56% of political articles being published by Facebook in the first week of September and only 6.08% of political articles being published by NPR within that time span. With Pew Research’s findings that 70% of internet users saying that they use Facebook daily, the information that people receive from the social media platform can have a serious influence. With access to research tools from various universities and a constant barrage of information every time they log on to their social media page, Millennials not only have the opportunity to become educated voters before the November election, they have the opportunity to make themselves be heard by the media. Millennials can use the proliferation of social media to write their own articles, blog posts, and research papers then publish them on a media platform that requires no more than a click of a button to share the story with people around the world.
In essence, it all goes back to being involved. With Millennials having the biggest share of voice in this election, it is important that we become involved on all fronts. Higher voter turnout will stem the tide of negative articles bemoaning the “young and restless Millennials” who refuse to vote. Along with voting, writing our own narratives about the election will allow Millennials to craft our own image and push out the negative portrayals the media seems to obsess over. There may be room for improvement, but with 69.2 million Millennials poised to vote in this election, the possibilities are endless.