News articles surpass reliability of flashy TV news

Journalism: the activity or profession of writing for newspapers or magazines or of broadcasting news on radio or television. The key word in that phrase is news. It provides readers, listeners, and viewers with valuable information, but can also spread ignorance faster than any other means of communication. The American public allows big broadcasting networks such as CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC to turn into vehicles of entertainment, instead of platforms to spread much needed information. In order to raise political awareness and stop simply entertaining we have to travel back in time and start reading our news.

Being a writer for BSM’s Knight Errant for two years, one major concept has been stressed over and over again: unless the article is a designated opinions piece or an op-ed, there should be no evidence of personal opinion or bias. That idea is quite clear in the journalistic writing world, but the broadcasting world is another story.

Those who read news understand pressing problems more than those who watch because they engage with the issue and the facts surrounding it. Newspapers conduct investigative reports, publish multiple articles on a given subject and give well-rounded information that can teach rather than entertain.

Those who read news understand pressing problems more than those who watch because they engage with the issue and the facts surrounding it. ”

— Grace Gyolai

Pew Research Center found that 85% of the informa- tion delivered on MSNBC, a national news network, could be classified as opinions in 2012. Yes, opinions can provide a breath of fresh air to the typically stuffy news world, but stations such as MSNBC have an obligation to provide quality, well-rounded news to its viewers, not explain their personal views on the current state of an issue.

High ratings bring more companies who want to advertise their products to the station’s viewership, but because the American public is so desensitized to ‘boring’ news, the only way to get the ratings stations need is to make the simplest stories catastrophes, and make stories annoyingly short. Pew Research found that in 2012, 50% of all news stories were less than 30 seconds long, proving that more information is being displayed, but less in-depth journalism is produced. When stories are played out in 30 second clips, we aren’t learning deeply about the story, and we aren’t learning about what is truly important to self government, such as which candidate to vote for, or different actions taken by our leaders.

When stories are played out in 30 second clips, we aren’t learning deeply about the story, and we aren’t learning about what is truly important to self government.”

— Grace Gyolai

Fairleigh Dickinson University conducted a study, ask- ing people if they believed the “opposition groups protest- ing in Egypt had been successful in bringing down the regime there?” The 65% of respondents who read national newspapers such as The New York Times or USA Today knew that Egyptians were successful in taking down Hosni Mubarak, but only 49% of Fox News watchers knew they were successful.

In-depth journalism is crucial because the United States public has the ultimate say in the direction of the government and future of the country. If we aren’t informed, it will become impossible to make educated deci- sions when voting. Everyone pays a price during election season if there are voters who do not truly understand the issues taking place in America, or which candidate can best combat those problems.

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A report done by The University of Rhode Island shows that during the time of the O.J Simpson trial, 74% of Americans asked could identify Kato Kaelin, but only 25% could identify the Vice President. If news stations had not spent months updating viewers on the latest twists and turns of the trial, maybe there would have been more news happening about laws being passed through Congress or domestic and foreign affairs. This type of disproportional news coverage leaves a certain kind of informed public but not on the subjects that are most important to their own self-government.

As the 2016 elections approach, it becomes even more important that voters do accurate research on the candidate they vote for. TV news alone is not an adequate way to learn about a candidate’s policies and beliefs. The rumors heard from parents, peers, and news stations are often un- true or incomplete, but reading articles published by news- papers allows readers to do their own research, read articles with a variety of angles, and gain knowledge from unbiased and journalistic sources.

Reading newspapers is, admittedly, more boring than watching flashy news channels, but not everything that is crucial and influential is entertaining. Luckily in the United States, there are multiple national newspapers that are always free and do not require a subscription. Reading even just the first paragraph of a few stories a day is more beneficial to political education than watching the news for an hour. It is time to take responsibility as a self governing country to be politically and socially educated. It’s not enough to just watch the news––read it.