How Informed Are You? 4 Ways to Tackle the Issue of Staying Current with World News

Do you think you know a lot about what’s going on in the news? Well, I thought I did too until I received a current events quiz in my class. Much to my surprise, I received a 6/12. Luckily for me, the quiz did not count towards my grade in the class; however, it was quite eye-opening to me. After informally quizzing my friends with the same questions, I found that I wasn’t alone in being out of the loop on the news. The average score for all of us ranged from 4-6. It seemed that college students were lacking in their information of current events.

You might call me old-fashioned, but I do believe that it’s essential to know what’s going on in the world. Clearly, however, this is harder than it seems. Even after my eye-opening experience, I still find it difficult to keep up with everything else going on. After performing a brief survey on my campus, I found that most people don’t even think about a news event or current topic in the world unless it directly affects them.

One student stated that “The New York Times is free on our campus, and I bet if you ask half of the student body, they would have no idea. It’s just the world we’re living in.”

One interesting thing that I found is that college students are informed on things that they can take a stand on. Of course, being the young adults that we are, it’s nice to sound educated even if it’s based on something that we saw in a meme on Instagram.

When asked how people felt about us dropping a bomb on Syria, I got responses like “Trump is trying to get us killed” and “I better not be drafted for World War III.”

Even though these responses may be delivered with wry intent, all of these students were very aware of the fact that the United States dropped a bomb on Syria. As an issue that could potentially affect their lives, this current event did not go unnoticed on my college campus.

But I also discovered that most people feel that they don’t have the time to follow the news as much as they would like to. Unfortunately, sitting around the breakfast table sipping coffee and reading the paper is not as common as it used to be. Americans always seem to be in a rush to get somewhere. Free time seems like a thing of the past.

Why sit on the train and read a paper when you could sit on the train and refresh every social media four times? The object appears to be staying “current,” but only within your own social circles, ie. through social media. The way of being well-informed is more of an inward-focused absorption of information, rather than a larger picture knowledge of the outside world.

So with this idea in mind, I’d now like to address the reader directly and propose a few solutions to this challenging issue of staying current. As nice as it is to think that only college students aren’t informed of the news, it is not simply a generational problem. We can all do our part to be more well-informed.

After analyzing the results of my brief survey, I feel that the route of the problem is not that people don’t wish to be informed, but it is that they are simply too busy to fully read a paper for 45 minutes. Who has time for that? I know that I certainly don’t. So here are my top solutions for fitting the news into your daily life:

  • Sign up for email newsletters. I have been subscribed to for over a year now. The Skimm is an email “flash-read” of the current events, and it does a wonderful job of making large quantities of information easily digestible. I’ll usually read the entirety of the email on my ten-minute walk to class.
  • Turn on news notifications on your phone. Almost every news outlet that you can think of offers an app. If you’re like me you probably get the notification that your phone has run out of storage approximately three times a day; however, I do promise downloading at least one of these apps is worth it. I have a few different news apps (it’s always better to get the news from a few different sources) and rather than looking at them daily, I have the notifications turned on so that whenever something happens it pops up on my screen. You don’t always have to read them (I most definitely don’t), but if you’re ever feeling uninformed you can quickly browse through your notifications and you’ll be nearly up-to-date!
  • Like certain things on Facebook. I’m sure that most of you are on Facebook, so rather than looking at that picture of your friend from high school and her dog, try liking some Facebook pages that supply current, relevant, and verified events so that these news pieces will pop up on your wall. Personally, I use Mic., CNN, Fox, and of course Buzzfeed. The options are unlimited, but be wary of fishy sources and false news. Even though I don’t check Twitter nearly as much as I used to (I myself haven’t tweeted since 2015), I haven’t deleted the app simply because I follow multiple politicians and news outlets. For those of you who don’t enjoy reading long articles, Twitter is perfect because you’ll get everything you need to know in 140 characters or less!

These are just a few suggestions to help you stay informed of the news without putting in an excessive amount of effort. After failing the recent news quiz, I have been attempting to take my own advice, and I am proud to say that I haven’t gotten lower than a 10/12 on any of the more recent ones. I am prouder still to say that being informed only takes up a small fraction of my day and most certainly doesn’t take away from any of my studying.

With the help of these tips I can assure you that being informed is easier and less time consuming than ever before. With the holidays coming up, try engaging in the politics talk that you have never been a part of before. Show your relatives that you are informed on current events (even if it’s the bare minimum) and that you are aware of what’s going on in the world.

I would like to encourage you to stay informed of what’s going on outside of your social circle. It can feel like you are being inundated with news at every turn, but learn to keep everything in perspective. A little bit of time dedicated to current news, a few less minutes spent scrolling on Instagram – there are definitive (and easily habit-forming) ways that you can stay current today. Now, it’s up to you!

Photo Credits: One, Two, Three