Last weekend I sat down with two of my friends to discuss how often they read newspapers or the news in general. The responses I got were really not all that surprising, and at this point, I would guess that these two girls represent a large portion of college students in the United States.
“Newspapers are so boring! I honestly don’t think that I’ve gotten past the front page of a newspaper in the last five years. It’s hard to be interested in stuff that I have no idea about,” said my friend Michelle.
“Okay,” I responded, “but how do you expect to learn anything about what is in the newspaper if you don’t take the time to read it?”
“Well, I don’t know! I guess the truth is that I just don’t care,” Michelle stated, with a hint of frustration in her voice.
Michelle, like me, is a student at Fresno State. She is a 24-year-old senior majoring in business, and, like a lot of our fellow classmates, she does not read the newspaper.
“I know I should care,” Michelle said. “But I really just don’t, and I couldn’t tell you why.
“Well, you should care,” responded Michelle’s roommate Sara. “How are you supposed to know what’s going on in the world if you don’t read the news?”
“I don’t know, I guess if I hear about something that sounds important I’ll look it up on the internet. Like when the earthquake and tsunami happened in Japan, I found out about it on Facebook, and then went online to read more about it.”
“Facebook? Are you being serious? You found out about that from Facebook? I can’t believe that you just admitted to that!” Sara responded.
“Well, where do you get your news from then?” Michelle asked.
“I get news alerts on my phone when something really important happens. I check the internet about twice a day to see if I missed anything. I will admit that I mostly only read the headlines unless something really catches my eye, but I think that’s still pretty good compared to most people my age,” Sara said. “I only recently started staying up-to-date on news because of a class that I took last semester. My teacher made us take weekly current events quizzes, so if I wanted to pass, I had to read the news.”
“At first it was irritating,” Sara continued, “But then it just became part of my everyday routine, sort of like checking my email. I do not read the newspaper though. Why pay to read the newspaper when I can get the same news for free on the internet?”
I don’t believe that these answers are unique to these two girls. As I mentioned earlier, these girls represent most college students.
I did a study fora class in which I asked participants which of the following they were more interested in: celebrities or politicians. An overwhelimg 73 percent of respondents admitted to being more interested in celebrities.
“I don’t know what the mass media companies can do to make people like me more interested,” said Michelle. “At this point, I would guess that most of our generation is kind of a lost cause.”
That statement may sound a little too harsh, but is she right?