Mediums of the Media

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In a time when technology and social media flood the masses with information, news providers have adapted to compete in order to gain and keep viewers’ attention. As the print newspaper industry decreases in favor of more convenient and faster mediums, the way people get their news has transformed.

Senior Karli Gerwig says that she and her parents have made a routine of watching the news every day and considers that they stay pretty updated.

“My dad, especially, is really big into big news,” Gerwig said. “He’s a history guy, loves knowing about the countries, loves knowing about the economics of other countries. My mom is more about the local news. They’re both people who like to be aware of things that are going on. So I kind of got that trait from them.”

According to the 2013 State of the News Media, an annual report by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, local TV remains a top news source for Americans but the percentage is dropping especially among younger generations. Regular local TV viewership among adults under 30 fell from 42 percent in 2006 to 28 percent in 2012.

Gerwig said that it is important to stay informed with what goes on in the community and the rest of the world and is bothered that not everyone takes the time to do so.

“That goes along with the whole, ignorance is bliss thing,” Gerwig said. “[It is] just, ‘if it doesn’t affect me, I don’t care’ kind of thing. I think the more ignorant people come off, the less likely [they] are to get places in life. So it’s just better to have a general knowledge of everything.”

News stations can decide to incorporate human interest stories with the goal of increasing appeal to keep revenues from ad sales. News entertainment or “infotainment” has been criticized from moving away from professional, serious journalism in favor of higher viewer rates.

“Young people are more inclined to watch it, but for people, like especially my dad, he watches the news for actual news, not for who’s getting married today or this weekend,” Gerwig said. “I’ll watch and they’ll say something that will come on again on ‘Extra.’ To me, if it’s on ‘Extra,’ it shouldn’t be on local news. It shouldn’t be on world news, on the station where we’re supposed to be learning about our city and our environment. So I think [entertainment news] attracts younger audiences, but as far as people that really want to know what’s really going on, I think it’s a negative.”

Gerwig warns about any news and information shared on the internet and social media, as it can easily be spread regardless if it is true or not. In order to figure out what is fact and what is fiction, English teacher Amy Simpson says that the best approach is a thorough one with research into many sources.

“I watch TV news, and I try to watch a balance,” Simpson said. “So I generally shift between CNN, Fox and MSNBC, because I think all of them have a slant to the news that fits their political agendas. You try to look at them all and hopefully the truth comes out in the middle somewhere. People always see things through their own lenses. That’s why the police talk to many witnesses, because people see different things and they interpret things differently.”

Simpson said she usually makes a point not to express her personal preferences to her students and encourages them to look at opposing opinions.

“I want students to not really be influenced by my personal bias,” Simpson said. “But if anyone listens to me very long, they’ll figure out which [political party I side with].”

Television is Simpson’s main source for news. She tries to avoid using social media for her news as she finds it lacks depth and accuracy. According to the current State of the News Media report, nearly a quarter of 18-to-29 year-old Americans rely primarily on social media for news from friends or family.

“[Social media is] obviously very fast,” Simpson said. “You can get things instantaneously. You can get even live things. Social media’s an interesting phenomenon, and I watch what’s happening with it. But as far as for me personally getting my news, I do it via television. So I think you have to be a little more cautious about accepting what you read as being anywhere near the truth.”

Anything done quickly may be carelessly reported, Simpson said. She advises everyone to make sure what he or she is reading is accurate before sharing it as the truth.

“People aren’t careful,” Simpson said. “It’s not just students. So being careful and taking the time to get multiple perspectives and to check out statistics and things like that takes time, and we’re kind of busy and a little bit lazy and we sort of just accept it.”


Read about Staying Cautious of Influences here:

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