Numerous studies have shown that people who spend less time watching or reading the news can be more content and socially satisfied. However, they also become less informed about current events and political news as a result.
Rick Moore, a media arts professor, believes that while this may be the case, students still have a responsibility to remain informed.
“Students are citizens of a community, of a country and of a world,” Moore said. “And they need to start realizing the responsibilities of that. We should have some concern about what’s happening in the world, and given that, we should consume news.”
According to Moore, politicians, media theorists and political scientists have for decades said that being informed is an essential feature of being a citizen in a democracy. And it’s difficult to do so, at least in a national or international environment, without reading the news.
However, Moore understands that sometimes those who are deeply engaged in the news get depressed or burnt out for many reasons, whether it be the condition of the world, the condition of politics or the human condition in general.
“When you read the news, you realize how crazy the world is sometimes,” Moore said. “So you need to find things to balance your news consumption to give you some other sense of hope or optimism, or some sense of peace in a world that sometimes is kind of crazy.”
According to Steve Utych, an assistant professor of political science, the good news is if you want to be informed, it just takes a little bit of effort.
“There’s a lot of research that says passively paying attention to the news still informs quite a bit,” Utych said. “I think on social media, one benefit is you don’t need to be interested in the news. If you have friends or contacts on social media who are interested and talk about issues, that passive interest will make you considerably more informed than someone who doesn’t engage. It doesn’t make you as informed as someone who’s actively seeking out the news a lot, but it keeps you informed by kind of getting news by accident.”
However, Utych said that one thing to be aware of on social media is the potential for sensational headlines and bias. Utych’s main advice for combatting this is to actually click on the articles and read them.
“I don’t want to tell people getting information on social media is bad because the format is not inherently bad,” Utych said. “The problem is that it can enable a lot of bad actors, and people are less likely to vet the information they receive, which then informs them in the wrong way.”
According to Utych, he believes that if students want to be good consumers of the news, they can do it. They just need to be careful and cognizant, and aware of super sensational stories and their sources.
Tuan Nguyen, a senior business and economic analytics student, consumes news daily because it is how he learns about what’s going on in the world.
“Consuming news helps me learn about the world, and I love exploring what’s going on in the world,” Nguyen said. “Also, news consumption is how I keep myself updated and stay tuned for interesting topics.
According to Nguyen, he sees the news as a useful tool to bring people closer to each other.
“As an international student, I learn and receive news from all around the world,” Nguyen said. “I also want to share with my family and my friends about the American news and vice versa.”
Consuming news is important for his career choice, but more than that, it is a means to be involved within the Boise community, his native community and the global community.