Episode 23: Naja Nielsen

This week, Henry talks with Naja Nielsen from Orb Media. They dive into all things youth and politics, focusing on how this group feels about their relationship with traditional politics, their tendency to focus on issues and not parties, and how they can often feel unwanted in current political systems.

Orb recently conducted a cross-national study, focusing on young people from different countries, and found that their desire to get involved often takes a less traditional format: young people choose protesting over traditional politics. This stance manifested in different countries and across the political spectrum: examples of the study included Poland where young people are moving towards right wing and anti immigration politics, while in the US they studied those taking  to the streets as part of the March For Our Lives. Other parts of the study focused on Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, and other countries, in an effort to understand youth voices, media coverage and politics at a global level. They found that even though the youth came from different ideologies and backgrounds, they shared similar feeling that traditional politics exclude young people. They call this “adult-ism,” which describes an environment where it feels like adult opinions matter more, “Young people don’t think they belong in any of those crowds” said Nielsen.

Henry shares some of the lessons from his book “By Any Media Necessary,” highlighting that a larger shift is taking place toward cultural mechanisms that allow people to communicate in a different way about issues that matter to them – asking questions such as what counts as politics and what could be included in political involvement. Nielsen also asks “could we do a better job at reflecting what politics actually is?”

In this episode, Nielsen also walks us through the shift – or need – to look at issues in a global perspective, particularly focusing on how we think of news as happening in discrete areas of life. An example is plastic: “It is in the air, it is in the water….you can’t stop that from entering your country…” and yet traditional news media tend to draw lines between national vs international news making, missing that many of our issues today are global. Orb, as an organization tries to look at these issues from a global perspective, focusing on what are the contention points are in political debate, more than just the issues at face value.

We hope you enjoy diving into this week’s episode as much as we did.

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