Gallup has some polling data that should provide a bit of optimism about the state of the country. Over the past decade, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of Americans reporting that they are paying "very close" attention to the news:
Even adjusting for the peaks around Presidential elections, that is clearly an upward trend. Just guessing, but some factors involved in this increase include:
New technologies and media that make it easier to follow the news
Political and economic turbulence
An aging population
It is also worth noting that Democrats actually pay less attention to the news than do Republicans:
Reasons for this gap are largely demographic. According to Gallup, there is a correlation between high income, older age and paying close attention to the news, which favors Republicans. Also, according to Gallup's data, men (42%) pay significantly closer attention to the news than women (30%), which also favor Republicans.
The Republican advantage shows that while there is an increase in civic engagement taking place in America, that engagement does not necessarily favor progressives. More people are paying attention to the news, but not necessarily the lower-income, largely younger people who have been most severely hurt by the economy of the past decade. No matter how successful Democrats have been in wooing and increasing turnout among young people, there is still a lot of work to be done.