The Home of Student Journalism at Lesley University

It’s A Myth That Students Don’t Care About News

Over the past few years, many people in the older generation have come to the unfounded misconception that young adults care less about the news than they do. These adults base their assumption on the fact that most millennials don’t read newspapers and watch the nightly news on TV. While this is true, their generalization is not only incorrect but a bit insulting. Of course young adults care about the news! What is happening in the world is what will be affecting us for the rest of our lives.  And just because today’s young adults don’t get their news from the same sources as yesterday’s youth, that doesn’t mean they don’t care. Our generation cares just as much as those before us have; we just have different ways of getting information.

One of the main differences between young adults and older generations is their news sources. Most young adults today don’t read the newspaper like our parents do; and they find it tiresome and a waste of time to watch the nightly news. This is because millennials have quicker sources of information that are personalized for us. The main source of news for many young adults is Twitter, which is completely free. Why pay for a newspaper when you can find the same articles online for nothing? Why waste time trying to find the stories that interest you when Twitter automatically does that for you?

We are also more internet savvy and will do anything to save the limited amount of time and money we have. In general young adults get their news from social media. Twitter has the option to show “trends for you” or trends based on your location. This is extremely efficient because the algorithm knows what you personally want to see based on your interests and what you’ve looked at in the past. Perhaps this isn’t the best way to get unbiased information but it’s better than nothing. If something really terrible or major happens, the news app on my phone will send me a notification whether I want to see it or not.

On the other hand, there is Facebook, which has a terrible reputation among millennials. Facebook is where everyone’s racist relatives get fed actual fake news from Russian bots. Older adults tend to clutter Facebook with politically incorrect memes and endless pictures of
things young people don’t care about. It’s a common stereotype that many people have a racist uncle who only gets his information from Facebook and Fox News, but there may be some truth to it– personally, I have an uncle like this, but that’s a whole other story.

I first got interested in the news leading up to the 2016 presidential election. I started to realize that whoever was elected would make decisions that would affect me and the people I care about majorly. It seemed like everyone around me in real life and online was freaking out about the news. I had just started taking my first ever course in journalism so I was extra alert to the media and how stories were delivered. It was essential for me to begin getting to know the news, which was intensely political at the time, in order to do well in my journalism class and have relevant stories for the school newspaper. I didn’t really agree with the generally conservative political atmosphere promoted by the administration of the Catholic high school I attended, so I decided to seek out my own “unbiased” information.

I spent a lot of time exploring political commentary on Twitter, and soon my feed was full of updates on all the worst things happening
in the world. This quickly started to stress me out. It didn’t help that I stayed at my dad’s house during the week where the news is constantly playing on the 60 inch flat screen TV in the living room and is practically inescapable. My dad reads the news, watches the news, and listens to the news so often that I don’t know who he would be if it suddenly disappeared. Around this time my dad introduced me to a few political comedians that I found entertaining so we would watch them together. Being able to laugh at what was happening was a bit helpful but then the next night, another terrible thing would happen that I would see scrolling at the bottom of the TV for hours as commentators seemed to talk about the world ending. A lot of the news focused around school shootings, gun control, healthcare, reproductive rights, and LGBT rights. The constant bombardment of information about shootings and murders was stressful, especially knowing how close to home many things happened. Of course these topics were argued about between Clinton and Trump, and as someone new to politics, it was all unnerving for me to watch.

Things were somewhat different when I spent time at my mom’s house, where she doesn’t watch the news as much. I needed a break from all the endlessly negative information, so I deleted Twitter for a while. When I finally re-downloaded Twitter, I  made sure to follow some uplifting accounts about happy animals and non-political comedians, so that my timeline wasn’t so depressing. I think that when I became interested in the news was probably one of the worst times to learn about politics and other issues because the political climate was
(and still is) so messed up in comparison to when older Americans learned to follow the news.

Perhaps our generation is a bit disheartened since it seems the news has mainly been negative for years; and it seems like there’s little we can do to change it, so why pay attention to something that makes us so depressed?  And yet, many of us are still interested, and more of us are becoming involved with issues and causes.  To sum up, it is a lazy generality to say that young people don’t care about the news. While there will always be some who don’t care, the recent midterm elections (when large numbers of young people voted) made it clear that young people do care about what’s happening and the things that are affecting their lives. The news will always matter to those who are living through the events. In the future I’m sure my generation will accuse the next of not caring when they have their own futuristic
methods of staying up to date with the news. Young people today care about the news more than the older generation thinks; we always have and we always will.

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