News on the go: Does it sink in?


At Allegheny, we are always on the go whether it’s going from class to class, attending sports practice, staying up until the library closes at two in the morning or inhaling our meal because we either have to attend class, a meeting or our job. Our schedules vary from day to day and traditional schedule do not work for our generation. Frequently, we turn to our smartphones to glean what we news can from headlines, which in turn gives us a wider but shallower pool of information from which to draw.

We are often so concerned with our academics, service and organizations on campus that we sometimes lose sight of other things in life that matter, such as getting our daily dose of news. It seems like there is not enough time in the day to sit down, relax and read the newspaper or turn on the evening news.  For those of us who want to be aware of what is going on in the world, we resort to either the apps on our smartphones or the Internet because it’s convenient.

According to Justin Ellis of the Nieman Journalism Lab in December 2012, 37 percent of smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 29 get their news on their devices. In a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in September 2012, 60 percent of people under the age of 25 get their news from digital sources rather than traditional sources.

We can scan our cell phones on our way to class, while we are waiting in line for food, when we have five minutes to spare or any time when it’s convenient for us and get answers with the click of a mouse.

We live in a world where we believe that we can have everything at our fingertips, including recent updates in the news. If I am walking to class, I know that I can rely on the Associated Press’s application to tell me the top 10 things I need to know for the day, but am I just getting headlines or am I getting an understanding of the full story?

I get the news from a variety of applications including CNN, NPR and The Associated Press, but I find myself just looking at the headlines. I don’t always click on the story and read it in its entirety. Technology helps us only if we use it in the right way.

What does this mean for Allegheny students?  It is our civic responsibility to modify our schedules and to make time in our day whether it is waking up a half an hour early, eating a meal by ourselves so we can focus or allotting enough time before we fall asleep at night to read the news.

I noticed that more of my classes require me to follow the news whether it’s for class discussions or for daily news quizzes. Before I took a couple influential classes, I didn’t realize how important it was to stay on top of the news. We don’t live a set schedule and have to adjust our lifestyle based on array of factors. We have to use the medium that fits our schedule. Since news is a cumulative process, reading the news once a day and then trying to pick it up a few days later may not give us the entire story. Instead of using smartphones to circumvent the process, we should use them as tools to broaden our understanding. Technology is only as good as the person who uses it.  Maybe that’s why they call them “apps.”  They only work if you apply them.