That’s incredible

How kids gets their news

Like many of my fellow students, I get my news from a variety of sources, including my cell phone, the television, websites, and sometimes even the newspaper. Living in a generation filled with technology, I have a smartphone, which has become my primary source of news.

I think I can speak for the majority of my peers when I say that I turn to mobile apps and quick snippets of news on social-media sites (such as a CNN post on Facebook) out of convenience. Like many high-school students, I have limited free time to spend learning about current events and so a quick look at a news app, Twitter feed, or Facebook post appeals to my limited time budget.

However, this convenience comes at a cost. With brevity, news sources often lose not only the details of a story, but critical pieces of information.

News apps, although constantly adapting to better suit users, cannot hold a user’s attention with a long story and consequently post short bits of a story. This often leads to readers misunderstanding the information, and it then becomes the reader’s responsibility to do other research to find the full story.

Social-media apps with news users attract many users because they include other, non-news-related features. This creates conflict, because factual information is covered up with opinions and rumors, leaving the reader confused as to what is real and what is fake.

News channels on television often have similar issues with regard to brevity. Every second counts on a news show, resulting in a whole news story taking less than a minute. This can be positive, because viewers are able to receive information on a vast scope of stories, but this can also be a negative. No one ever criticizes being concise, but too little substance turns into knowledge that is a mile wide and an inch thin.

The obvious solution to these problems is the in-depth, old-fashioned newspaper or its partner website.

Newspapers have existed for centuries and are a classic and fairly reliable source of information, but newspapers are limited. Newspapers are unable to utilize the technological elements an app or website can, such as videos and interactive programs, and are confined to a specific space requirement. Websites, however, are able to show real stories alongside visual elements.

Unlike newspapers, websites are generally given more space to include supplemental pieces of information such as a video or a link to another article. Websites, however, consist of only one source’s works instead of a compilation. This limits the website to the program’s bias.

So it seems the only way one can get the best of all mediums is to use a combination of all mediums, utilizing the different features while taking advantage of their differences.
When receiving news information, there are a variety of variables to consider, including bias, accuracy, clarity and accessibility.

I think that the proliferation of sources has drastically changed democracy. From the time news came solely from newspapers and radio until now, people’s exposure to information has lost consistency. This can be viewed as both a negative and a positive change, but either way, it has changed our system of democracy.

When discussing ideas and opinions on news stories, people rarely have the same basis of the story, each having a different deviation based on their exposure to the story. This leads to controversy over whose information is most credible.

These differences in exposure lead to an appearance of diversity and open-mindedness, because one thinks that multiple sources would have different perspectives. This is true, in most cases; however, there are times when sources begin to conform to the most popular idea, and people trying to get a full idea are actually limiting their perspective.

From the inconsistency in news exposure, any uniformity in basic knowledge and basic facts there once was of information absorption is now completely changed.

Click here to read other essays on “How kids get their news.”

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Heather Strathearn is an 11th grader at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, CA. Tags: