What's New in the News?

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With all this technology and the proliferation of information, you'd think we'd be more informed, right? Think again. NPR is reporting today on a Pew Research Center study finding that, although information and news is more available than ever, we don't retain any more information about world affairs than we did 20 years ago. I was specifically disappointed to see that women scored significantly lower than men, and that 18-35 year olds trailed significantly behind other age groups.

Check you News IQ against the demographic groups. I scored above averages for all groups (77%, though the questions I missed I totally should have known.) but I am a self-confessed News Junkie, taking after my dad. It's a lifetime problem I've had- I remember in elementary school in Hawaii, on the radio, I wouldn't listen to the latest music station, I'd listen to the 24-Hour CNN Headline News station, and I though it was cool that I could mute the TV on CNN Headline News, put my headphones on, and the radio station would sync with the TV news. I suppose I was an odd child. Now, I'm not so different- I listen to NPR on the radio rather than any music station. I've never surfed Facebook or MySpace like normal people my age. Instead, I refresh Google Reader over and over to make sure I don't miss a breaking story. Seriously, Google Reader is a lifesaver for the News Junkie.

I had conversations about this with others. I have a hard time understanding why a person wouldn't care to keep up with the news. Most people I talk to say they know they "should" do a better job, but aren't motivated or say they don't have time. I keep informed on current events because I feel it is a responsibility- I can't vote unless I understand the issues and the candidates. I can't support one side or another of an issue without knowing the arguments for both sides, to know why I believe what I do. I can't want change in the world if I don't know what's happening in the world. I can't know what the most important causes are unless I know what is affecting people's lives. While at Taylor, I wrote a couple of letters to the editor encouraging people to care about world events outside "the Bubble," but I don't think anyone cared.

Being aware of the news and the world has made me care more about the world, and so I am happy I have made the effort. Why do you (or don't you) keep up with current events?


Matt Wissman said...

I too am a news junkie. I love listening to NPR on the way to and from work and of course use Google Reader to stay informed.

One thing I like about NPR is NOT hearing about Britteny Spears or Anna Nicole Smith, etc...

Larissa said...

I am proud to say that I took the quiz and got a 77% as well. :) I listen to NPR on the way to work and on my way home from work pretty much every day. I have about an hour commute so I find out a lot of information that way. Daniel is a HUGE news junkie. He has news sources from around the world that he reads to try to have a balanced perspective on everything and to know what's going on elsewhere. I'll try to remember to ask him for the links and post them later in another comment.

I must say, before graduating from college I didn't know anything. I think I changed because one day, I got tired of hearing the same songs over and over again and wanted to hear something new. I switched over to NPR and then got hooked. I still listen to music every now and then, such as when I'm driving to the hospitals. Something else that I think makes a difference is Daniel and I don't watch TV. We sometimes watch TV series on DVD but that's it. Well and movies too. On Saturday mornings we have a routine of eating brunch together, listening to Car Talk, What Do You Know, and This American Life. This American Life is my favorite. Okay, I have officially begun to ramble so I'm going to stop now. :)

Joanna said...

We LOVE Car Talk, because Josh likes cars to start with (as does Daniel) and this American Life is one of my favorites as well, but it plays at a time here where I'm not usually listening to the radio. Did you know it's now a TV show? Along with "What Do you Know?", we listen to a very similar show called "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me"

Matt Wissman said...

Alisse and I love to listen to "Wait, Wait Don't Tell me". We are planning on going to one of the tapings this summer (since they are done in Chicago). There is a free one July 19th in Millennium Park.

Matt said...

I have never taken much of an interest in current events. I don't wave that banner proudly, but since you asked, I thought I'd at least represent the below average population.

And I'll back you up in this: "I can't vote unless I understand the issues and the candidates." There are some who would say "You're an American... if you don't vote, you're failing your country! You MUST vote, even if you fill out the ballot blindfolded!" While I'm certainly not helping my country in refraining from voting, an uniformed, random, or purchased vote is more damaging than no vote in my mind. So while I have a dismal awareness of current events, I also don't vote.

Yeah... that's not so good. I intend to rectify the situation for 2008, but I'm not excited about embracing the argumentative noise that is modern media. Every piece of information I receive that's packaged as "news" has to be taken with a grain of salt... and that's a lot of salt. Blech.

Joanna said...

You've hit upon the paragraph I edited out of my blog post. Now that you've brought it up, I'll add it back in:

Everything is communicated through a worldview, and is biased. There's no such thing as unbiased news, because "news" is the reporting of events through the eyes of a witness of those events. As hard as the reporter tries, they can't communicate the event without some 'spin'- that's their job, interpreting current events for us, to fit into an hour news show, or a tidy article. Despite this truth, I can listen and try to decipher the facts (albeit, maybe selective facts) from the spin, and get an idea of the story. I figure I'll get less-spun facts from a journalist than from the activist, politician, or blogger* with a more vested interest in the issue. Media outlets and journalists are different, too. I feel like I get the most accurate, rounded news from NPR, and the least accurate and most-spun from FOX News. So, I don't watch FOX News and stick to CNN, NPR, and the Indy Star.

* Notice I said "blogger". Yes, I blog about the news, and, yes, I put a spin on it, as anyone does. I link to the less-biased article and encourage readers to check it out and make conclusions for themselves. Then come back and argue with me about it, if they see fit. I can be wrong.

Ashley said...

Okay so I scored well below average on that quiz. :-) However, believe it or not, I actually read the news quite frequently. I have to keep up with Paul, at least. :-) He has a TV at his desk at work, and watches CNN all day. You'd be jealous. ;-)

I think the reason why I scored low on that quiz is because everything they asked was related to US politics. Believe it or not, that's not the only news that's happening! I tend to not follow US politics, because I have a pretty cynical view of the media and how accurate its reports are. Paul usually fills me in on the stuff, too. I am more interested in the life news - the people and what is effecting them. I also tend to pay a lot of attention to Latin American news. I used to have an RSS feed to Latin American news in English, but it disappeared and I can't find it again.

I am also interested in ethical debates and news that might affect me personally. Local laws that are being passed, health issues, anything about animals, etc. And yes, I do follow entertainment news. :-) I have an RSS feed to People magazine, and I always check the entertainment section of CNN. I don't know why I find it so interesting.

As for NPR, I *LOVE* CarTalk! Or should I say, CahTalk. I could listen to it for their accents alone. :-) I don't generally listen to NPR though.

I like it when you bring up current events on your blog because it makes me think about it more.


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