Media Releases

Young Voters Want Politicians to Grow Up

Released at 8:40 am on 3 September 2014

Young voters want answers to the questions that directly affect them – but it seems as much as anything, they want politicians to grow up.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Radio New Zealand’s The Wireless has teamed up with Massey University’s Ask Away project to get some real and direct engagement between young voters and politicians, providing questions and answers on a website where New Zealanders can get responses from political parties.

Some of the early interest has been focussed on the behaviour and productivity of politicians in Parliament while other key issues relate to the environment, inequality, tertiary education, sexual violence, and mental health and special education. The perception is that many of these are not being adequately addressed by mainstream media in the lead up to the election.

The Wireless senior content producer, Megan Whelan, is delighted with the response so far and emphasises the importance of identifying the issues that push buttons for youth voters:

“Many young voters are voting for the first time. We are all about informing and empowering young people by addressing their issues with journalism that cannot be found elsewhere. It’s about encouraging informed debate and helping people have a say in decisions that affect them.”

Ask Away project leader, Meg Howie, from Massey University, sees the benefit of direct interaction with potential voters:

"Ask Away is giving young people the opportunity to take part in the political conversation on their own terms. It is fantastic to see young people interacting with our representatives in this way, and reveals that young people are very willing to be involved when they're invited."

In the last week of the campaign party leaders will be asked one question a day and invited to respond.

Ask Away is part of the Design and Democracy Project at Massey University and Radio New Zealand’s online network, http://thewireless.co.nz/ delivers multi-platform public service media to a generation of New Zealanders who have grown up in a digital age.

Coverage of the election on The Wireless: http://thewireless.co.nz/themes/election

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