Now is the Time to be a Journalist
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Politics and Activism

Now is the Time to be a Journalist

Contrary to popular belief

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Now is the Time to be a Journalist

It seems as though millennials don't read the newspaper. Most don't watch the local news. And many won't pay for a subscription to a magazine. Do they really only care about their social media feeds?

For these reasons, our parents' generation believes us to be utterly unaware of the world around us. We are disconnected from the events that really matter, while we cannot be bothered to disconnect our thumbs from our iPhones.

Also for these reasons, the reaction to my proud statement of “I am studying journalism” usually includes an expression of pity, confusion, or, more blatantly, “Really?”

Concerned by these responses, as well as the grim projections after googling “journalism career outlook,” I realized there had to be more to the story. Because although most of my peers aren’t sitting on the couch at 6:30 every night to nod along as Lester Holt eloquently delivers the day’s events, I don’t know a single one who fits the description “unaware.”

A 2015 study by the Media Insight Project found that 85 percent of 18 to 34 year olds from across the country said keeping up with news is of importance to them, and 69 percent said that they get news daily. Not surprisingly, the first generation of “digital natives” gets this news content online. Research has revealed that we spend much of our time on social media, rather than going directly to news destinations. This has many worried that civic awareness is declining as the interest in events in our social sphere is rapidly rising.

But what if this isn’t the inverse relationship that it seems to be? What if our aggressive consumption of social media actually leads to an increase in our civil awareness? The Media Insight Project study went on to find that Facebook is the number one gateway for news and information. For information on social issues, crime, local news, natural disasters and more, millennials, whether consciously or not, click the blue “F” on their phones and start scrolling. What we find when we get there ranges from opinions, concerns, updates, excitement, wonder, grief, and joy in the form of pictures, videos, and statuses regarding the events happening in our world as we scroll. Sure, there are cat videos and baby pictures scattered through our news feeds, but what our elder generations fail to understand is that we are more connected to current events than ever before with the help of social media.

We scroll through our social media streams as a part of our daily lives. It’s second nature for our generation, maybe even more than we believe to be healthy. But one side effect of this craze is that it allows us to know what people are talking about up to the second, and we don’t stop there. Each snippet of information about a newsworthy event, whether it is local, national, or global, peaks our interest and feeds our desire to know more. Now instead of reading the articles in the paper or listening to an anchor read the latest stories that the news outlet deems most important, we decide what topics we want to explore. We “like” pages, click links to articles, interviews, and videos, and use search engines to delve deeper into the news we need to know -- and we do this all without a second thought.

Many voices in the media industry tremble with fear that our generation acquires news accidentally, as a mere side effect of our social media obsession. I would argue that our social media obsession has shaped a generation that actively cares about media in general, regardless if it was accidental. We are a generation that wants to know more about the world around us, and fittingly, we have made it so easy to do so; it is a part of our daily routine and a part of our culture.

For these reasons, I will continue to proudly state that I am studying journalism, because I am learning how to speak to a generation that cares about the world. One that is so interested in the events that transpire that they want to know details up to the minute. So they won’t walk outside and pick up the Sunday paper with my writing on the front page, but they will see my article on their news feeds, click on it, read it, and share it with their followers, who will share it with their followers. Well, that is if I do my job right.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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