Ten to twenty years ago at parks and on college campuses, it was common to see a majority of the people with newspapers in their hands. In the last five or more years, we now see people with their heads buried in some portable form of technology. Many newspaper companies have caught on to the trend and have adapted. Print forms of their work are still available but they now also have alternative access to the internet, such as via applications for phones, iPads, tablets, or computers.
The New York Times is an example of a major publication that has “kept up with the Jones”. In September of 2010, Diane McNulty a spokeswoman for The New York Times was interviewed by Bill Krueger for Poynter.org. In that interview, she said that “31 percent of college students read the printed or online versions of the Times. “More college students do read us online than in print,” McNulty told the Pioneer in a recent e-mail. “We encourage them to read the Times content on any platform.”
So what format do C.W. Post students prefer? And what news organization do they follow? What do they think of newspapers? And do they think they are adequately informed?
Many digital formats don’t always give people the full article, so do Post students think there are any draw-backs to using a digital format? Pascal Germain, a Senior Physical Education and Health major, said ““I read the BBC World News from my phone. It seems to be the most unbiased form of news for me right now. I also look at CNN every once in a while but it turns me off because they focus on the most irrelevant things. I use my phone because newspapers are too big for me to carry around. With my phone I don’t need to worry about throwing it away, or flipping through pages. The story is right there; all I have to do is click. “I don’t think I have any drawback using a digital format because the app I have on my phone provides me with the entire article at no cost (BBC news app for android). I think newspapers are good for the older generation. I suppose its vintage to them but, for the younger generation, they don’t seem to serve any purpose. Why pay for something you can get free through an app, or online? Also the majority of young people are so caught up in their superficial lives that they lack the patience to flip through paper. No, no one in our society is as well informed as we can be, and should be, because we only get what the Government wants us to know. The media serves as a tool to give us the things they allow us to know, not the things we need and deserve to know.”
William Lindburg, Swedish Grad student said “I read The New York Times on my laptop every day. The most important news is on the internet because it is always being updated and there are only things in print from the day before. It’s more convenient to use my laptop because the paper is big and takes up a lot of room. Personally I think it would be better if everything were digital. I always use my computer. In Sweden it is still popular to read and buy a printed copy. There is more content in the print, and online you have to pay a fee to find a specific article.”
Several students interviewed by the Pioneer preferred accessing the news from their phones, various Apple products, or their computers. However, there are a few of us remaining, like me, who like the old fashion print. Andrew Albrechtsen, Junior Computer Science major, said, “I read The New York Times online mostly, but it’s convenient to pick up a free hard copy in Hillwood before class. Sometimes I read CNN online too, but mostly The New York Times.” When asked what he thought he would gain by reading print instead of using the digital apps of The New York Times, he replied, “It’s easier to concentrate on the print edition. There aren’t a lot of annoying ads like online but it’s also easier to discover interesting articles in print because they’re right in front of you, you don’t have to click on one to gloss over it and see if you find it interesting.” When asked if he would like to see more of his fellow students reading print and why he thought people gravitate to digital forms, Albrechtsen replied, “I think people find it more convenient to pull news up on the computer than carry around a newspaper with them. Online news is also constantly updated. It would be nice if more students read the printed copies we have on campus because I’m sure a lot of them are recycled. I think that I’m pretty well informed – I’m a bit of a news junkie”
Of course, we will always give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and say we are well informed, but our teachers are often the ones who can best judge how well informed we really are. Sociology professor Dr. Heather Parrott said, “I love NPR and NBC Nightly News, and The New York Times. I love how diverse NPR is, so it is my main news source. I don’t think many of my students are adequately informed. I like when there are the few that are, but that is unfortunately uncommon. For example, when I talked about the uprisings in the Middle East and Occupy Wall Street, few students knew about them. I think one simple thing students can do to make themselves more informed would be to occasionally go to The New York Times headlines and read them so there is some idea of what is going on. Students can listen to NPR while driving, or making dinner. They can get a brief overview of what is going on in the world. What the school should try and do is obtain a discounted subscription for online. Overall I would want students to be more informed.”
We live in a world that is rapidly changing; we are in a political and economic climate where we cannot afford to be ignorant about what is going on around us. Students should be aware of the economic crisis that has made it hard for students to pay for school; loans are harder to come by, and banks are bundling student loans instead of home loans and mortgages (this is what contributed to the economic collapse at the end of the Bush Administration.) The policies of the next President could help or hurt students. Regardless of whether you take advantage of the free copies of The New York Times that are available in every academic building and Hillwood Commons, or if you use your Apple or android products to seek out news, find out what is going on in the world around you, not just what’s in the headlines and what is popular. Find something that interests you, something that you can be passionate about.