News, why are we not interested?

17 Apr

So I have a journalism degree and I also have parents who worship Brian Williams, the Post Dispatch and Channel 5 news. Dinner at the Whitney home is 5pm (geriatric, I know) and you better believe we watched the news over something delicious, yet healthy. Thanks to all of that, I am relatively interested in the news. I am probably most interested in local news, but I try to stay fresh on national and international events.

I am not going to lie, sometimes it’s super hard. Let’s talk about what’s going on in Syria, for starters. It’s in the news a lot, there is a revolution and protests happening, but I really don’t get it. Would I love to sit and watch Brian Williams explain it to me? More than anything in the world. I read articles about it online, but I really can’t grasp the back story or understand it’s total importance.

It blows my mind how disconnected some of my friends are with current events. Not understanding a lot of it, maybe I’m the pot calling the kettle black, but hey, I’m trying. This November I get to vote and it’s my job to do some research and cast my ballot for the person who I think will do the best job for our country. Or the opposite of the person my dad is voting for to cancel him out. Either way, I need to know who I want to pick, or at least who my dad wants to pick.

Do all generations face this problem? Is it typical for 20-somethings to be so lukewarm on international news?

I’d read the news if Christian Bale delivered it to me.

My freshman year of college I took a class called “Vietnam, Iraq and America’s Global Power.” Yes, the class was exactly as liberal as it sounded. We learned so much about the Vietnam War and politics of the Middle E

ast. I had no idea why Israelis and Palestinians hated each other so much, but that’s crucial to solving problems and understanding the conflict itself. I remember thinking “Americans did THAT” and pretty much left the class each day thinking both wars were too complicated to end.

I think part of the reason people my age aren’t interested in news is because we have a really terrible background for modern events. In high school I took World History, where we covered ancient Mesopotamia up to the world wars. I took American Government/Politics. I learn about how the government was designed to work and how it functions. I took American History which started with the settlers and led up through the 1950s.

All of that is super important and created a great foundation, don’t get me wrong. But what about everything that’s happened since 1950?? History teachers only have so much time to work with in a year. How can they be expected to squeeze in everything from the economic roots of the Civil War, Women’s Rights, World Wars and the Industrial Revolution. Do we prioritize history to fit in events that more directly affect current events? Maybe we need two or three years of just American history.

How can we be expected to be readers and learners about American involvement in the world when the last thing we know about US Foreign Policy is post-WWII? We have so much catching up to do, and quite frankly that’s exhausting.

Most of what I know about the 1960’s-1980’s is from Billy Joel’sWe Didn’t Start the Fire and Wikipedia. If I knew more about Desert Storm, I might better understand the foreign attitude towards soldiers in the Middle East.

Honestly, it’s easier to keep up with the Kardashians because I saw them become famous. I know the back story, so it’s easier than Syria.

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4 Responses to “News, why are we not interested?”

  1. Paul April 17, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    Young people aren’t interested in the news 1) because it’s “not cool,” 2) it’s so much easier to watch and concern yourself with reality tv and celebrities, 3) our culture has dramatically changed to a me-me consumeristic society that doesn’t care about what is going on with anyone but myself. If you want young people to care about international events, domestic events, and news in general, the culture of our generation needs changing. Why care about what’s going on in Syria when my favorite basketball team is about to make the playoffs and I can watch a bunch of New Jersey no-lifes?

    • smwhitney April 18, 2012 at 8:24 am #

      Truth, I think the key word there is “easy.”

  2. Lindsay Cochrum April 18, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    I thought the same thing about history classes, so I took 20th Century American History my junior year. Awesome class, but sadly, I haven’t quite retained all that important stuff from the latter half of the 20th century. Same with Geography of the Middle East.

    • smwhitney April 18, 2012 at 8:24 am #

      Late 20th Century History is way underrated!

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