By Thierry Peters
Adam Gradzki, a 23-year old Biotechnology major at the University of Pittsburgh, believes that much of the modern news media has become yet another platform for entertainment. Although he sources his news from digital platforms, he still claims that he can find a wide diverse spectrum of views and opinions online. As a member of the younger generation, Adam finds digital sources to be much easier to access and more comprehensive. According to a Pew Research Center study, an increasing proportion of Americans under 30 access their news online. Mobile devices are increasingly being used to access online sources as well.
Adam also says that “it is difficult to sympathize with international news as a resident in the United States because of the socially ingrained American exceptionalism that has made us immune to acknowledging the existence of a world outside of our national borders.” He rarely watches television and chooses to avoid local news sources because of its move towards entertainment over real unbiased news. The Pew Research Center states that, according to its findings, only 35% of those younger than 30 watch news on television on a regular basis, and Adam is part of that generation of youth. Adam makes the claim that “the in-depth analysis and detailed accounts offered by international news sources have always trumped” the local television news he has watched in the past.
When he does seek information on local events and incidents, he turns to Twitter, a social media tool that has taken on an important role overseas. The Arab Spring, and the current protests in Turkey are just two examples of where Twitter has taken on an important role amongst uncertain, angry, and energetic youth. It is also often used for news aggregation, combining selective sources into a ‘news feed,’ be it local, domestic, or international news.
Not only does Adam see an increasing lean towards entertainment in domestic news sources, he also believes that news should instead play an educational role; “news should be there to inspire, provoke, and teach, not only entertain. News outlets too often cater to the immediate demands of their readers, often demands for entertainment, without a mission to provoke or teach wider concepts.” As a daily reader of international news, Adam feels that he has learned far more than he otherwise would have been able to gather from domestic and local sources. On many occasions, he claims that the knowledge he has gained from opinion pieces and in-depth reports has helped him both in the educational and professional worlds.
According the Pew’s report, he is one of the few people under 30 that still enjoy reading the news on a daily basis; 24% of Americans under 30 claim to read it daily and enjoy it. What does the future hold for American news sources? That is anyone’s guess, but looking at the current trends one could surmise that the increasing entertainment-driven orientation of domestic media will continue being an important factor in viewership numbers for television stations and online sources.