How do SMCC Students Consume the News?

Consuming the news and keeping yourself up to date on current events is one of the most vital things anyone can do. Being an informed citizen helps you in making the best decisions possible, whether it be at the voting booth or what environmentally damaging products you can do without. 79% of young people, aged 16 to 40, say they get news daily, according to a study conducted by Media Insight Project.

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There has been a shift in how different generations consume information. 91% of young people responding to Media Insight Project’s survey said they are getting their news from social media sources. Our parents and grandparents may consider newspapers and television news channels as the only true source of news, but my peers and I are finding it in different ways. This became especially prevalent to me during the Black Lives Matter protests in June of 2020, when TikTok allowed me to view protests across the country from a firsthand perspective, while traditional news outlets told different stories.

It’s essential for young people to keep up to date on the news, so I asked some of my peers at Southern Maine Community College about their news consumption. Responders fell primarily into the 18-22 age range, with two individuals being 25 and 36, spread out across numerous majors. Out of the ten that responded, seven of them said they consume news daily, one said several times a week, one said once a week, and one said several times a month.

In terms of how they consume the news, the majority said they do so through social media, the most common being TikTok. Also popular were Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram, Youtube, and podcasts. Only one peer reported that they consume the news through a “major news site online,” but did not specify which one.

Peers were asked if they personally believe it is important to stay up to date on the news. All agreed that it is important, providing different reasoning.

Several said that knowing what is going on in the world and in your local community is important, and having awareness is vital. One summed it up simply by writing “Yes, because you can’t change anything if you don’t know what’s going on.”

Other students went into more detail.

“Boring is the tool of the powerful. There is a great scene in the film The Big Short (about the 2008 housing crisis) where a character says, ‘Does it bore you?’ [They were referring to] how people on Wall Street were able to do unethical or illegal things because people were confused by the terms or were bored with [them],” one student said. “People count on the masses checking out so they can do what they want with little accountability. This is how rights are eroded or undesirable situations arise (e.g., PRISM). I try too stay up with the news and think about its policy implications for myself but also vulnerable populations who may not have the luxury of time and education to read the news and understand it’s policy implications.”

“It helps you understand the world so that you can participate effectively in it and, sometimes, have prior warning of incidents that affect you. Economic news is very important, though I neglect it,” another said. “News on local politics, state and national politics, and international issues are the primary types of news I follow. This is important for me as a politically engaged person (I am a member of several “fringe” political organizations).”

One student made a comparison to a film, writing “Ever watch Shaun of the Dead? Where the Zombie apocalypse is slowly happening around him and he’s oblivious until it becomes a huge problem? Keeping up with news is like that.”

Two students stated that while they think it is important to keep up to date on the news, ignorance tends to be bliss.

“I do think it’s very important to be aware of the world around you. Though, personally I don’t go out of my way to consume news frequently as I experience a lot of mental health issues and already feel overwhelmed by the trouble in my personal life,” one said. “I need space from extra, unnecessary stressors and exposure to the negative stories that are usually broadcasted.”

“I think it is in order to know what’s happening around you, and to be prepared in case something happens that could affect you or someone you love. That being said, paying too close attention to the new can be rather damaging to your mental health, since so much of it is so terrible,” the other wrote.

It’s safe to say that Gen Z is an informed generation. With constant social media consumption for the most part, it’s hard to avoid the world around you. Even though young people are reading newspapers and watching news networks less frequently, they’re finding new ways to stay informed.

Categories: Politics

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