As I’m sure is the case with many CC students, when I first arrived on campus and moved into my dorm room, it was the first time in my life that I did not have complete access to cable television. Growing up outside Washington, D.C., my family and I usually kept up with current events by reading the Washington Post, but we still turned on the TV for a dose of the daily news. Whether it was a local news channel or a national cable news outlet, the TV was there to inform us of what was going on in our community and nation.
Once I was fully immersed in the liberal arts education at CC, I began to get most information about current events from online news sources. With the advancement of technology in the form of smart phones, tablets, and laptops, these news sources are more widely available then ever, and the number of people accessing the news via this medium is increasing year after year. Currently, according to the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, 39 percent of Americans get their news from online sources, second to the 55 percent of Americans who still watch TV broadcasts to get their news.
The majority of Americans who view TV news broadcasts are older than 30 years of age and the most frequent viewers are those older than 50 years of age. The older generation of Americans seems to only rely on TV broadcasts to receive their news, while only a third of our generation, those under the age of 30, watch TV news programs. This may have to do with the creation of new media devices and platforms, such as smart phones and tablets, and the rise in the use of social media websites, such as Twitter and Facebook. Our generation is much more adapted to these new technologies, so it is easier for us to access news outlets via the Internet.
Although the percentage of Americans who receive their news by reading a newspaper and magazine is at an all-time low, 23 percent and 17 percent respectively, those same print news sources are getting more and more readers via their websites and digital applications. Currently, 55 percent of regular New York Times readers say they read the paper on a computer or mobile device, as do 48 percent of regular USA Today readers and 44 percent of Wall Street Journal readers.
These statistics, from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, are encouraging to hear because even though the style of the print medium is fading due to technology, the amount of Americans still reading these sources online is encouraging. As college students, it is commonplace for us to read the news online or on our phone, either for a school assignment or just to stay informed about current events. Yet, as we grow older, it is important for us to continue to read written news sources, whether it is via print newspapers/magazines or Internet websites. Not only is it more stimulating to the mind to read information than to absorb it from watching TV, the quality and accuracy of print and Internet news outlets far outweighs that of TV news broadcasts.
No matter what news program you’re watching, whether it is a local news channel or a national cable news outlet, most of the information being presented about a particular story or event is vague, repetitive, and just plain watered down. TV news broadcasts are focused on their ratings and the number of viewers they have each day, so they present information in an entertaining way that will keep viewers interested even at the expense of completely and accurately informing them about an event. Cable news outlets from both the left and the right do this when presenting information about politics as a way to ensure their viewers continue to see what the news outlets want them to see and think in a way they want them to think.
Don’t get me wrong—there is going to be bias in every medium where news is presented; but newspaper, magazine, and online articles are the best and most informative way to stay up-to-date on current events because individual writers are not concerned with how many people read their article or how entertaining it might be. These writers want to portray an accurate description of a certain event and how it affects us in our everyday life based on facts and reasoning, and maybe a bit of their own opinion, which the reader can compare to a different article by a different writer on the same subject. There is a powerful feeling that a person gets when they read about current events, and this power is given to us by the vast amount of information that is within written news articles.