Let's have a push for news literacy
For four years, I had a morning routine. I would wake up around 6:30 a.m., take a shower, get dressed, make sure everything was in my backpack and make my way downstairs to my kitchen. By this time it’d be about 7:15, and I would turn on Good Morning America and listen while I put a slice of bread in the toaster or grabbed cereal out of the cabinet. Before leaving for school at 7:45, I would sit and watch the news. While five minutes wasn’t exactly an ideal amount of time to learn about everything in detail, I would usually be in the car five minutes later knowing something about what was happening in the world.
I know that my five minutes of daily viewing didn’t necessarily qualify me as a superior news source, but I did know when there was a major conflict, an important speech or some sort of progress taking place. I graduated from high school pledging that I would be an informed college student who was able to identify with causes and debate with my peers over lunch about a bill being put before Congress or last night’s State of the Union. Little did I realize that that’s a lot easier said than done. I have class at 9 and usually find myself smacking the snooze button when my alarm goes off at 7:45. My backup cell phone alarm goes off at 8:15, and by then I’ve realized that I have to shower, get dressed, get all my stuff together and run to Bobs for a quick bowl of Fruit Loops before making it to class in Lovejoy on time.
I know by now that you’re thinking: who does she think she is? Get off your soapbox, freshman. But Colby, I am one of you. Everything I’ve brought up in this piece so far, I myself am guilty of. I understand how difficult it is to keep up with everything on this campus, much less things that happen thousands of miles away. I’ll grab the New York Times in the dining hall, and shove it into my bag with the intention of reading it after class, only to have it end up in the Piper recycling bin two or three days later. I’ll go into the bookstore and buy Newsweek or Time; there’s a three-month-old stack of unread issues sitting on the edge of my desk. Instead of going to CNN.com, I’ll go check Facebook. I pass by the TV in Pulver, and checking out the score of last night’s game being broadcast on ESPN, but won’t wonder what happened in places outside of Waterville.
Normally, I wouldn’t be this concerned if I was the only one having this problem, but I’ve seen this happening all over campus. My friend said she didn’t know there had been a shooting in Arizona before her mom told her. I overheard two students in the Spa talking about how they figured out there was a major political uprising in Egypt because an article about it came up on their StumbleUpon. Anyone seeing a pattern? We’re getting our news secondhand as opposed to having it be a part of our everyday lives and finding it out for ourselves.
Now, I’m not proposing that there be a major technological shift from pop culture to politics. I won’t pretend that that’s even a possibility (much less a priority) for everyone. What I’m proposing instead is that the campus take minor steps to make Colby a more informed place. Change your homepage from Facebook to a major news website. Rather than having the T.V. in Pulver constantly tuned into ESPN, have someone at the information desk turn it to CNN. On major game days, projectors are set up in Bobs and Dana; why not install one or two TVs and have them broadcast the news everyday (and then the game or other events when the time calls for it)? Why not put one in front of the ellipticals in the Athletic Center? Maybe even put a notice on the General Announcements or Discourse with the major headlines.
While this change is something that could potentially benefit the college as a whole (I’m sure the next round of parents on a tour would breathe a sigh of relief at seeing something other than Jersey Shore being shown on campus), it would ultimately prepare us more for the life we’ll have outside of college. At an interview, when our potential employer asks us how we feel about the economic climate in China, we can confidently tell them and not grasp at straws for “the right answer.” It’s not about seeming informed, it’s about being informed. If not for ourselves, then at least for the parents who are shelling out over $50,000 a year for this education and the world we’re about to be sent out into.