In an era of ‘fake news,’ students receive news in a variety of ways

Digital outlets are the main source of news for 64 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, and one-third of 18- to 29-year-olds named social media as the most helpful source of news during the 2016 election. Photo illustration by Gracie Fleischman

Amanda Carlsson and her family watched the news on TV every morning while she grew up in Sweden. Now, she feels a responsibility to stay updated on current events even when she’s away from home.

Every day, she reads The New York Times “Morning Briefing” newsletter for the U.S. and Europe. She also listens to NPR and a few news podcasts once or twice a week in her car, she said.

“Living here, I feel very disconnected from what’s going on in the world. I make a conscious effort to stay up-to-date,” the senior strategic and corporate communication major said. “My family always knows what’s going on, so I want to know what’s going on.”

But some Chapman students, like Carlsson, can’t remember the last time they picked up a newspaper. Digital outlets are the main source of news for 64 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, according to a 2017 Reuters Institute report. One-third of 18- to 29-year-olds named social media as the most helpful source of news during the 2016 election, according to a Pew Research Center study.

In the era of President Donald Trump’s “fake news” accusations on Twitter and thousands of questionable news sources online, some students understand the importance of trustworthy journalism and unbiased facts. However, only 69 percent of millennials get news daily, according to a 2015 Media Insight Project study.

Samara Fitzgerald doesn’t do much to keep up with the news, she said. The sophomore creative producing major relies on notifications from the Twitter Moments feature to stay updated about the world around her. Even though she’s not loyal to any single news source, she tends to read those that reflect her views, she said.

“I usually like the ones that are more tilted toward my views, but I know that it should be more unbiased,” Fitzgerald said.

Carlsson also notices that her favorite news sources, like The New York Times, lean “more toward the left,” but she still values fact-based journalism, and not stories, she said. The job of the news media is to report the truth to the public, she said, which is why she disagrees with Trump’s attacks on the media, especially the outlets that report unfavorable facts about him.

“As the president, you should expect the media to constantly be at your throat because that’s what the general public deserves,” Carlsson said. “If he’s constantly attacking the news media, then he’s not recognizing that they have our best interest at heart, and not his.”

Some students don’t see Trump’s “fake news” accusations as a way for the president to discredit his enemies, but as a call for citizens to be more skeptical of the news they hear. Chris Donly, a senior creative writing major, agrees with Trump’s criticism of the news media.

“It’s one of the few things that I think he’s actually sort of right about,” Donly said. “It’s right to have a healthy distrust of all news sources in general. We live in a post-fact kind of world, where everything can be disputed by some perspective.”

While Donly doesn’t actively seek out news, he reads news posts from his friends on Facebook at least once or twice a day to collect many opinions before forming his own, he said. Seventy percent of millennials reported that they usually see diverse opinions on social media, according to the 2015 Media Insight Project study.

Some students like Ryan Meltzer, a sophomore finance major, don’t make the time to keep up with the news due to academic priorities. However, like Donly, Meltzer is wary of “fake news” that is driven by ulterior motives, he said.

“There is definitely fake news out there. It’s just publishers trying to get their subscription numbers up,” Meltzer said. “It’s more attention-grabbing rather than accurate.”

Carlsson believes that some students do not keep up with the news because they can’t see how it impacts them, she said. Even if they are skeptical about the reliability of the news media, students should remain aware and form their own opinions, Carlsson said.

“I don’t hear a lot of students having conversations about what’s happening in the news unless it directly affects them,” she said. “It’s so important to know what’s going on outside of yourself. It’s important not to be ignorant.”

1 Comment

  • “The job of the news media is to report the truth to the public, she said, which is why she disagrees with Trump’s attacks on the media, especially the outlets that report unfavorable facts about him.”

    The Panther put a hyperlink to a tweet where Trump PROVED that a reporter deliberately lied, but they used this tweet as proof that Trump is against facts? What?

    Come on now.

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