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News: Why does it matter?

October 1st, 2015

Next Tuesday, Oct. 6, all of us at John Carroll University are being asked to participate in a phenomenon that’s happening across the country: News Engagement Day.

 

All you have to do is get on Twitter that day and post stuff about news – stuff you read or see that’s news-related. Use the hashtag #newsengagementday. Add #JCURussert to tell people where you are from.

 

Then sit back and watch to see if it starts trending. If not, tweet some more and help it along!

 

News Engagement Day is the brainchild of Paula Poindexter, head of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. Here at JCU, the chair of the Tim Russert Department of Communication and Theatre Arts, Mary Beadle, is asking everyone on campus to participate. Events are planned to encourage this.

 

Today, as you read this, a group of 20 lucky students are scheduled to visit the Northeast Ohio Media Group, which runs Cleveland.com. Students will tour the newsroom and meet with several top journalists, including 2014 JCU grad Ryllie Danylko, now a crime reporter there.

 

Next Tuesday, people in Communication classes will tweet and post on social media. At The Carroll News they’ll tweet about the edition they’re putting together that night. Others will be tweeting at WJCU and JCTV-4. You may see our broadcasting students doing interviews in the halls.

 

We hope people everywhere on campus will join in, as you read, hear, see and otherwise engage with news stories and events. Tweet from a speaker on campus, or a student activity. That’s news! Post on Instagram and Pinterest with the hashtag too. More information and suggestions are at www.newsengagement.org

 

Why are we doing this? Let me attempt to explain why it matters.

 

I know young people are getting tired of being told they need to read more news. If you aren’t interested, why should you?

 

Well, the reasons are significant. Our future as a democracy depends on it. Everyone should be keeping track of what their political leaders are doing. If you don’t, how can you know whether they’re doing what you need them to do?

 

I care about local news particularly because it builds a sense of place and community. It’s the glue that binds us to local places, people, institutions and traditions. These can provide help when you’re in trouble and fun when you’re feeling good.

 

The future of our planet also depends on people following news.  How can we ensure the planet stays safe for humans to live on if we don’t know how fast the glaciers are melting, sea level is rising and storm weather is worsening — and what our politicians are not doing to stop it?

 

My biggest worry is that soon, we won’t have any journalists left. The whole reason my former newspaper job vanished, like those of so many other journalists, is that people stopped, or never started, reading and watching news. Who will be the watchdogs who keep track of our political leaders then? Who will cover storms, crime and other disasters? How will people know what’s going on?

 

Despite my professional involvement, I don’t blame people for avoiding news. I know it often sucks. Too many stories are about depressing stuff. Too often, it’s badly written or presented. Many stories on news websites are impenetrable. They expect you to already know stuff. They aren’t written clearly.

 

I have a suggestion for those who find news boring or depressing: try The Skimm, a daily email newsletter that’s really fun. My journalism students say they love it, and the feeling that they know what’s going on in the world. Sign up at theskimm.com. You can cancel it anytime.

 

Another favorite is Vox Sentences, a daily email news summary from Vox Media. It’s clear. It doesn’t talk down to you. Find it at www.vox.com. Scroll down to the bottom where it says “Get Vox in your Inbox.”

 

Try these next week and you’ll have stuff to tweet about on News Engagement Day. See you on Twitter! I’m @Carobella3.