Reflections…

For our last blog post, we decided to go with a video where we reflect on what we learned. We hope you enjoy it!

By Amy & Aimee

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Traditional News Knowledge

Thinking RFID
As part of an assignment for another class, I passed out 100 surveys toFresnoStatestudents. The goal of the survey was to find out how much time students spent reading the newspaper and/or watching the news on television, compared to how much time they spent watching celebrity based television shows and/or reading magazines that are focused on celebrities. I also wanted to find out how knowledgeable the students considered themselves to be when it came to both celebrity and traditional news.

A majority of survey takers fell into the 18-27 age group, which is not surprising considering the face that this survey was handed out atFresnoState. Also not surprising is that over 50 percent of participants admitted to either never reading the newspaper, or spending less than one hour a week reading it. Still unsurprisingly, 46 percent of students claimed to either never watch the news on television, or spend less than an hour a week doing so. However, 15 percent did say that they spend over four hours a week watching the news.

With regards to reading celebrity magazines, over 25 percent of participants noted that they never read magazines, however, over 45 percent of survey takers admitted that they spend two or more hours a week reading celebrity news or magazines that focused on celebrities. Slightly over 40 percent noted that they spend two or more hours a week watching news programs that focus on celebrity news, but 30 percent claimed to never watch shows like TMZ, or Entertainment Tonight.

None of the results noted above should be considered surprising to most people, but what should be considered surprising is that a large majority of survey takers still considered themselves to be either knowledgeable or very knowledgeable when it came to what they knew about traditional news and what is happening around the world.

Now, of course it’s hard to narrow down exactly what constitutes someone as “knowledgeable” when it comes to news. My thoughts are going to be different than yours, or anyone else’s. However, I’m just not very sure how these students could possibly consider themselves to have any knowledge at all when they spend such little time watching the news.

While taking the survey, one student mentioned to me that she considers herself knowledgeable, despite the fact that she never spends anytime watching or reading the news, because she hears other people taking about the news, and that’s where she gets a majority of her news from. Yes, you read that right. She considers herself knowledgeable because she eavesdrops on other peoples conversations about news.

Now, while I don’t believe that the majority of students share her feelings, I do find it to be a scary thought that people like her exist. I was not able to discuss the thoughts of other survey takers with other students, so it would be interesting to hear their opinion on what makes a person knowledgeable or not knowledgeable when it comes to traditional news.

The greater our knowledge increases the more our ignorance unfolds.
-John F. Kennedy

-Amy Block
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Aimee’s video reflection

Instead of the doing the traditional blog post, I decided it would be fun to record a video of myself reflecting on my past blog topics and discussing what I have learned from this project.

Next week, Amy and I will be teaming up for a joint video reflection of both our blog topics! We will compare our findings and what we both found interesting. Stay tuned!

-Aimee Caneva

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Did we really need to know that?

Hollywood Sign

As I sit at my computer and browse through celebrity gossip websites trying to figure out what people know about celebrities another question popped into my head. Is there anything that people don’t know about celebrities? Information regarding just about every aspect of their life is out there on the internet for people to read.

In the last five minutes alone, I found out that David Beckham was involved in a car accident, Paris Hilton has apologized to Lindsay Lohan over a comment she made, Kate Middleton went grocery shopping, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might be getting married in their French chateau (this article is even complete with pictures of their home).

Alas, the next question that pops into my head becomes a sarcastic, fill-in-the-blank one: I needed to know this because _________________? I don’t know the answer to that. Does anyone?

The interesting thing is that once I start looking at celebrity news, it’s hard for me to stop. I just wasted almost an hour of my day, and honestly, it was an hour that I needed to use for other things, looking at news that has no influence on my everyday life. The only thing that it showed me was that I just might be as obsessed as everyone else.

As much as I like to deny it, I’ve pretty much always known that I’m obsessed. In my defense though, I would estimate that I spend equal time reading regular news as I do reading celebrity news. I’m not exactly proud to say that I know the real names, along with the nicknames, of everyone on the cast of The Jersey Shore. However, I can proudly say that I am able to name all the countries in South and Central America (it may not sound special, but how many people do you know that can do that?). Sure, I know where Lindsay Lohan is doing her community service, but I also know what President Obama was doing last week.

I’ll reluctantly admit that I enjoy reading blogs such as Perez Hilton more than I enjoy reading The New York Times. I’ll even confess that I think it’s funny when Perez Hilton draws on the faces of celebrities with his little white pen. The New York Times would never do something as lowbrow as that. They only show pictures of war, destruction, and other things that make people sad. The thing is, I still take the time to read it. And you, my friend, should be doing the same.

-Amy Block

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Who is more obsessed with celebrities?

The celebrity gossip magazines that are currently in my apartment. Am I considered obsessed with celebrities?

My family and I have taken several trips over the past few years. I can remember my mom always making a comment about how we were flying into/out of the Los Angeles airport and how we can “maybe see some celebrities walking around the airport since they do fly like normal people.” Ever since then, I too have thought at one point or another that I can potentially see a celebrity walking around LAX just because it is Los Angeles, the city full of famous people. So, why do we care about potentially seeing someone famous?

A recent example of how we are obsessed with celebrities would be the Royal Wedding. Nielsen (2011) conducted research on the news coverage of the event and comparing both the American and British news outlets following the announcement of their engagement last November. Research, including both print and online articles, shows that the American media was more obsessed with the Royal Wedding compared to the British.

Although I could not find any reliable statistics or demographics on who is more obsessed with celebrities, but the fact that several countries all over the world are obsessed with the American media. One of my graduate professors told her class a story about a time she was in Russia. She had met a few locals and they had seen some of her American items she had traveled with. They wanted to buy her items off her because they were obsessed with the American culture. To them, owning pieces of American culture was a big deal in their country.

Whenever I would have the opportunity to chat with someone from outside the United States, it was interesting to hear their comments on the American entertainment culture. When they would ask where I was from, I would respond with, “California.” Almost everyone who had asked me that question, have asked me if I lived in Los Angeles and if I knew any celebrities. I let them down easy as I told them I was unfortunately from Fresno and did not know any celebrities personally.

As I get ready to visit Europe for the first time in three weeks, it will be interesting to see if there are any similarities to how American celebrities are portrayed within their media. I would like to see if any of their grocery stores or magazine racks have the amount of celebrity magazines as we have here in the United States.

I do believe that America is the most celebrity obsessed in my opinion and with my personal experiences. We are the country that most envy and want to be like, including living the American Dream by becoming rich and famous. I would hope that more Americans would be more obsessed with knowing more about what is going on in the world, rather than what a celebrity wears or who was seen with who.

-Aimee Caneva

References

Nielsenwire. (2011, April 25). American News Media Cover Royal Wedding More Frequently than UK Counterparts. Retrieved from http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/royal-wedding-buzz/

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Foreign News…Are You Interested?

World map

When it comes to knowledge of foreign news, I consider myself a bit abnormal. I can honestly say that I know more about foreign news then I do about local news. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. I try to read the news about my hometown of Fresno, California, but quite frankly, it’s depressing. I don’t want to read about homicides, gangs, robberies and high unemployment rates in the Central Valley. I’d much rather read about the political turmoil of other countries than my own. You don’t have to say it, I know – I’m odd.

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey during the height of the protests in Egypt. While the protests in Egypt accounted for 56 percent of the news coverage, only 32 percent of people said that they followed the stories closely. This was interesting to me because this protests had all the makings of a drama movie written all over it. People fought, people were injured and hundreds even died, and perhaps most importantly, the people of Egypt were able to force their president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down from office.

The Pew Research Center notes that while the amount of people who followed the story closely was relatively high for a foreign story that does not include something that the U.S. is directly involved in, it still lags behind some of the other foreign stories that Americans followed closely. The stories that we followed the most closely were the 2010 stories of the Haiti earthquake (57 percent of people claimed to have followed this story closely) and the Chilean miners (40 percent of people say they followed this story). 34 percent of people paid close attention to the Somali pirate story in April 2009, next came the protest of Egypt.

The list, which you can view here, shows the top 16 most followed stories over the last four years. One of the things that is most notable is that all of these stories include a tragedy of some sort. None of stories are happy, fun stories, and most stories don’t have any effect on the United States.

Another notable point that is made in the article is that many Americans found the problems in Egypt too difficult to understand and follow, and in general, people were more concerned with what was happening in the U.S. than they were about what was happening in Egypt. This leaves me wondering how much time and effort people put into reading about the protests, because I personally, found it easy to follow and understand.

When it really comes down to it, a person can’t know what’s going on in every country at all times, but they can make an effort to pick some things that interest them, and do what they can to follow those stories. If you feel that you might be interested in keeping up with foreign news there are several good sources around the Internet that are easy to find and navigate through. BBC and Foreign Affairs are both good, as well as The New York Times and the Washington Post.

– Amy Block

Sources:
http://people-press.org/2011/02/09/public-now-more-focused-on-egypt-but-coverage-far-surpasses-interest/

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Political Knowledge

 MN: Obama in LaCrosse - IUPAT

It’s really not that easy to figure out exactly what people know regarding politics in theUnited Statesand around the world. If I were to take a wild guess though, I would say that people don’t know as much as they would like to think they do.  

Twice a year, The Pew Research Center conducts a quiz of the public’s knowledge of political news (click here to take the quiz yourself). After completing the quiz, you can view the results of how you did, along with the results of other people who have taken the quiz (or if you want to be a cheater, you can skip straight to the results, but I do not recommend that you do that).

The newest quiz that thePewResearchCenterhas published features 11 questions that test participant’s knowledge of important people and significant current events that people should know something about.

I took the quiz myself, and was happy with my results after answering 10 of the 11 questions correctly. I missed the question aboutWisconsin(let’s be honest here though, when is the last time you can recall reading a news article aboutWisconsinthat didn’t involve cows?).  

My results put me with 7 percent of other test takers who had the same score, and meant that I did better on the quiz then 91 percent of the rest of the people who took the quiz. Only 2 percent of test takers scored a perfect 100 percent – yes, you read that right, only 2 percent.

ThePewResearchCenterwas also nice enough to publish the results of the quiz based off of the demographics of the people who took the quiz. These results showed that men were more likely to answer a question right than women were (come on ladies!), and college graduates were did better on the quiz than those who have not graduated college.

The results also showed that people who fell into the 50+ age group tended to do better than those who fell into the 30-49 age group and the 18-29 age group. I will point out, however, that those results are slightly deceiving though. The 18-29 age group is a lot smaller than the 30-49 and 50+ age groups. But nonetheless, it’s not a real big secret that people who fall into the 18-29 age group don’t know a lot about what’s going on in the world and theU.S.

I became a little disappointed in myself when I saw that 68 percent of men and 58 percent of women knew the answer to the Wisconsin question (believe it or not, those percentages are pretty high compared to the results of some of the other questions).

It was also a little odd to me that so few people knew who the founder of Facebook is (come on people – they made a movie about it!). However, I’m still trying to figure out what Facebook has to do with politics.

I don’t really think that I need to say this, but it appears that people need to spend a little more time reading the news on a regular basis. Just try it out for a week – I’m sure you’ll start to love it!

-Amy Block

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