News broadcasts are on the TVs as you work out, newspaper headlines catch your eye in the caf, and breaking online news stories are updated every few minutes. Readers can comment in real time. News stories spread across the globe faster than you can log on.
In today’s world, the media are everywhere. This constant bombardment begs the question: is having more access to news than ever before preventing us from actively informing ourselves?
The answer is yes. In today’s fast-paced world, we are privileged to have many different news sources at our fingertips. But having access to a multitude of articles, videos, blogs and individual opinions forces people to become selective in what news they choose to read or watch. This makes people seek only those articles or broadcasts that interest them and search for stories that support their political views.
Louis Gray, a blogger who analyzes the increasing speed of Internet news and social media, said, “People are intentionally filtering the information they consume through sources they agree with, or are turning instead to entertainment and idle-time activities, becoming less informed.”
It can be difficult for people to keep up with the news. As soon as you become well-informed about a current event and have analyzed multiple opinions so that you don’t have a bias toward the issue, another story breaks and the one you now understand is old news. It’s a constant process, and people do not have the energy or desire to stay informed.
In a recent NPR.com article, reporter Linton Weeks said, “The news is coming at us so fast and furious, we don’t always have time to be exposed to news we are not already interested in. Our horizons may not be broadened by this onslaught but narrowed.”
Because news is presented at such a fast pace, it is difficult for people to be affected emotionally, Weeks said. If there is no emotional connection or vested interest in the first place, people are less likely to care about staying informed and up-to-date.
I admit, even as a journalism major who studies the media and has chosen the news industry as my career field, it can be difficult to stay actively informed all the time.
But if students were to set aside some of their time each day to try to understand current events, that is better than avoiding or ignoring the news altogether.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the amount of news sources available, analyze a few that provide different views on the same issue or event. The more you know about one news topic, the more you will develop solid news judgment for all news topics.
Rebecca Omastiak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.