By: Sean Hammond, Vanguard Staff Writer
See if you can you answer these questions:
How many wins does Justin Verlander have this year?
Who’s your favorite to win “Dancing with the Stars?”
Who’s running to be your U.S. senator?
The last one probably took a bit more thought to answer.
Every day, we are bombarded by news that is interesting but has little bearing on our lives. Stations have political headlines that are drowned out by Snooki’s latest antics or a Kardashian engagement.
In order to actually get news about what is going on in the state and national legislature, you click through multiple web links to get to news sources other than CNN, MSNBC and Fox. It may get you some news, but it tends to be more trendy than in-depth coverage.
In a Twitter and iPhone world, it feels like it takes forever to read a three page news article about what the President’s new jobs plan does. It’s much easier to read John Boehner’s or Nancy Pelosi’s tweet about it and call ourselves informed.
Having politicians on Facebook and Twitter is not a bad thing. It makes accessibility and awareness to their constituents more convenient. The problem is considering ourselves informed and forming arguments around 140 characters. Very few can form an intelligent argument with only a few sentences of information.
The general population is falling behind on news that doesn’t have to do with a celebrity. More and more people have no idea whom they are voting for and go for whoever looks like the most popular person.
What has to happen for people to make informed decisions in one of the longest lasting democracies on the planet? We must actively become more politically aware.
Thirty years ago, the news was on once a day and all the major stories would be about what was going on in the nation and the world. We don’t have the luxury of being spoon-fed stories that pertain to how our representatives and senators are affecting our nation.
I recommend two ways to do be more aware. The first is to grab a newspaper. Just by reading, you’re taking a step in the right direction. Try the New York Times, which is free on campus.
The second is to read Associated Press news and foreign news sources, which have significantly less bias than most domestic news sources. The AP also writes more fairly balanced articles and fact checks politicians from both sides. These are easily found online.
I leave you with a quote about the importance of being informed about government to ponder from Thomas Jefferson: “The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”