Do you still read newspapers, or do you read them online? Or are you satisfied with watching the news on tv? Maybe you prefer blogs, or even Facebook statues and twitter. Does it really matter where we get our news from?
Of course it does. Let’s get the main and most obvious issues out of the way: legitimacy, accuracy and neutrality. If you’re lucky, you will get two out of three.
I voluntarily get most of my news from Mr. Jon Stewart and Mr. Stephen Colbert, and that’s just how I roll. I do not see anything wrong with having them as sources just because they are comedians as well. Serious issues do not have to be discussed in black & white print or by surly old men. I like a little comedic perspective with my politics and current affairs, thankyouverymuch.
However, I inadvertently also learn about current events via twitter and Facebook statuses, these are not the news sources that I choose, but I can’t really avoid them. They are not my first choice, but they do get the information out into the world so you can then go on and pick your news source and learn more about it there. Marple commented a while back that although she has never watched Idol, she knew a great deal about it, due to Facebook statuses. I learnt that Patrick Swayze was dead via Facebook statuses, and the recent earthquake in Haiti was tweeted before I could hear about it anywhere else. If I think back, I learnt about 9/11 on somebody’s AIM away message (“Watching the towers fall” prompted me to turn on the tv).
Is this a bad thing? I mean, as long as the information is reaching people and prompting them to look into it further, isn’t that what really matters? After I hear about these things, I will usually go online and either google it, or go to my usual blogs, read more there and then follow their links. Lazy? Perhaps. But this has become my own ritual instead of reading the morning paper over breakfast, and not only because I prioritize sleep over most things. So I guess this is better than either forcing myself to read the newspaper like it’s homework, or not even bothering at all.
I can see how our attention spans are getting smaller, but I don’t think it’s necessarily only because we are getting lazier, but because the amount of information is growing too fast. We need to divide our focus between all the different headlines that are thrown at us, and getting it summed up with emoticons in 140 characters or less can be seen as time efficient. Maybe, we’re just learning to manage our time better. Or we could all be headed downhill towards a pit of ignorance.