New approaches to the news


By Camron Owens

It is pretty evident that news websites are shifting from news stories to animal pictures. In a recent interview, Matthew Erlich, a professor of journalism, recently researched the topic claiming that animal stories “are the kind of news items that go viral, that get circulated by social media.” He went on to say, “These kind of things are often put down as being everything journalism should not be about.”

It is no surprise then that many students are not informed about the news. Studies continuously show that many people cannot even name prominent figures or are unaware of major news items that affect their lives. A 2010 poll showed that 41 percent of Americans cannot name the current vice president.

John Oliver recently tackled this problem on his program “Last Week Tonight.” where one of his correspondents asked various people about Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance. Most had no idea who he was, nor did they seem to care about what the NSA was doing. That is, until Oliver’s correspondent asked if they were OK with the NSA seeing naked photos that they had sent to one another. Suddenly, the answers changed.

Oliver proved a point in this segment: Many people do not care about the news because they do not find it relatable to their lives.

This abundance of apathy toward important world events is quite alarming. This type of indifference is a problem because it means we are uninformed about events and figures changing our world. Getting people to care about the news does not necessarily seem like an easy task, but it is definitely possible for students to keep up with the news, especially if they change their sources. Large and prominent news companies such as MSNBC, CNN and Fox News are not always known for their young viewership and the way they present the news might not resonate with everyone.

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For college students, it can seem that many of the major news outlets tailor to older audiences. After all, it was YouTube’s “Apparently Kid” who said, “I don’t watch the news because I’m a kid.” To make the news and staying updated seem more appealing, young people need information in a way they will understand. An obvious example would be how The Daily Illini is written by college students for college students. On a larger scale, websites like specialize in tech news, written by those in the tech industry. In general, specialized news sources help audiences with different tastes and interests better understand issues and news items.

Take the website for example. Mic is an online news outlet that caters to young people. Mic’s mission is that “Young people deserve a news destination that offers quality coverage tailored to them.” Mic’s co-founders have pointed out that they try to present news in casual ways without sacrificing journalistic integrity. They know that stories covered by many major news outlets do not resonate with a lot of young people, and are making it their mission to give young people important stories and put the subjects they care about into perspective.

Mic is just one of many websites that are trying to help create an informed group of individuals for the future. Websites like Vox and Vice also present news in alternative fashions, such as immersive journalism.

Getting the news does not have to be through traditional systems either. Apps like Circa and Flipboard allow smartphone users to check the news tailored to audiences on the go. These news companies create and present news in a way that is designed for those who constantly use their phones. Other companies, such as theSkimm, send out e-mails every morning with easy to read summaries of the biggest news stories.

On top of all of this, most of these websites are very active on social media, delivering stories to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. Checking what is trending or the news features on SnapChat are easy and convenient ways to stay up to date.

People are capable of being informed and caring about what is going on in the world; it is just a matter of finding the platform that works best for the individual. Taking time to check out some alternative news sources can be beneficial to our knowledge on current events, and all students should look into it.

Camron is a junior in LAS.

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