I was once searching for news online outside of my reliable aggregate of The Economist, New Yorker, New York Times, and TIME magazine. I ended up stumbling upon The Onion, a satirical news organization that mocks people and events; in short, the news is mostly false. But at the time, I did not know that. Even after seeing articles like “Panicked Biden Interrupts State Of The Union To Ask If Erections Can Ever Be Medical Emergency,” I almost believed them.

The Internet is filled with “news” sources akin to The Onion, but many of those sources are more dangerous to the public. The Onion boasts jarring but obviously false headers, so much so that an avid news reader would have an intuition that the story and thus the source is false. Other sources are far less obvious; the news sources could boast false information, but it seems so close to what possibly could happen that people do not hesitate to believe it. The veracity of the information proliferated online is dwindling; there are so many more online news sources, but more and more cannot be trusted. Even worse, we do not know which ones to trust.

This unreliability is what drives me to stick to the sources I know I can trust, sources like The Economist, New Yorker, New York Times, and TIME magazine. These sources have developed, throughout the years, a reputation for being trustworthy, and as a result, I believe they report the truth. I care more about the veracity of the news I get more than the price I have to pay. With the plethora of news sources, I want to always refrain from risking running across an unreliable source, no matter the cost or trouble.

This proliferation of news is inherently beneficial for democracy. The basis of democracy is that it represents the ideas of the constituents. But there is a catch. In Jeffersonian democracy, democracy only represents the informed constituents. With more accessible sources, more people qualify as part of the informed. Majority ideas would represent a larger demographic, further enhancing and solidifying democracy in the nation.

And with the advent and extreme popularity of the Internet and also mobile devices, the proliferation of news is getting easier, but the enforcement of the news’ veracity is getting harder. Even on my mobile phone, on which I check news daily, I am still a little paranoid about getting trustworthy news sources. The more unreliable sources there are on the cloud, the more I stick to my aggregate of big-name, reliable news sources.

Though there is an abundance of unreliable sources on the Internet, digital news offers a definite advantage: speed. Articles are published immediately after news occurs; there is little time in between, further keeping the public updated on what is transpiring. The inclination of the population towards the quicker and more up-to-date digital source proves difficult for other sources like periodicals to exist. But, over the past few years, periodicals such as TIME magazine have been participating in digital news. Magazine names would continue to thrive, but whether the print periodicals would continue to exist is questionable. There is less and less need for the printed copy when the website is updated quickly with the magazines’ digital articles. Not only would print periodicals become obsolete, but so would other time-limited sources such as TV news shows and radio stations. The news broadcast from these sources are limited to specific times; the cloud is open to any time of any day. Slowly, news media would change completely to the cloud. News videos, articles and podcasts will soon be placed online for easy access.

With the news shifting from print to digital, news can be viewed from any tool that can access the cloud; the accessibility and availability of the cloud opens new doors for the spread of news. As of right now, the accessibility of the Internet is prevalent, but limited; in the future, the cloud could very well be available to a much larger demographic on a much larger variety of tools. Take, for example Google, which is developing the Google Glasses with a display on the lenses. With the innovation and creativity of this generation, five, ten and twenty years from now, the tools for online accessibility will be unimaginable.

But one thing remains clear. The cloud is an asset, not a replacement. The cloud’s sole purpose in news is improving its accessibility. News companies would still be in business and would still conduct and subsidize their own large investigative reporting projects and write their own articles before being placed on the cloud for the public.

It is extremely important for the public to be informed and up-to-date on local, national, and international affairs, and with news spreading on the Internet, news easily travels to each and every individual. The prevalence of news on a medium as accessible as the cloud has facilitated the process of informing the public, thus creating a more informed public and drawing us back to our Jeffersonian roots of an improved democracy.

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

 

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Stephenie Zhang is an 11th grader at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, CA.