Students turn to variety of sources to keep up with changing face of media
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 08:04
A flashbulb memory is a long−lasting, vivid recollection of a significant moment in history. It’s the reason why people can remember exactly where they were on Sept. 11 or when Osama bin Laden was killed. However, many people heard about both of these events, which occurred a decade apart, in very different ways.
“I heard about Sept. 11 on the radio. I was in the car on the way to school. I remember it very clearly,” sophomore Naomi Strauss said. “When I found out about bin Laden, I saw it on Twitter.”
Strauss’ experience is typical of a generation that grew up alongside a rapidly changing media landscape. From FM radio to a constantly updating online newsfeed, the manner in which we learn about world events has changed significantly over the last decade.
Julie Dobrow, director of the Communications and Media Studies program, finds the constant evolution of media to be one of the most interesting aspects of the field.
“One of the things I love is that it’s different every semester,” Dobrow said. “Sure, it means that it’s more work for me, and I can’t rely on things that I even may have used last year, but I’m always updating my classes.”
It’s not just scholars like Dobrow who need to keep up with this constant change. With the recent expansion of social media and online news feeds, traditional media outlets are either forced to adapt or become redundant.
“Things like Twitter certainly put increased pressure on some of the older outlets like television or newspapers … [that are] behind and … struggling to figure out how to catch up,” Dobrow said.
Twitter appeals to many students because of its short, constant updates.
“I get snippets of the news on Twitter. What’s nice is that it also gives you the link of the full story,” Strauss said. “I follow [The] Huffington Post, [The] New York Times and all of the politicians I’m in interested in.”
In an attempt to catch up with these rapid−fire news streams, all major newspapers now have extensive online options, reducing the value of their print editions. Dobrow is aware of the decline of print journalism, but still appreciates a hard copy.
“Is there still a role for print newspapers? I think it’s waning, although I like to think there’s still something about the aesthetic pleasure of having the Sunday newspaper,” Dobrow said.
Tufts students have adapted with ease to online news sources and use them to expand their exposure to various media. Students also have the opportunity to tailor their news according to their preferences or access different perspectives on the same story.
“I use The Economist, The Washington Post and [The] Huffington Post every day. Why? Because I’m a liberal nut job, I like the liberal bias,” freshman Agree Ahmed said.
Senior Angela Lyonsjustus explained why she prefers GlobalPost to The New York Times.
“GlobalPost has more in−depth and interesting stories than [The New York Times],” she said. “They have features which you wouldn’t normally see in [The] New York Times.”
Although Lyonsjustus does not necessarily use The New York Times as her primary news source, many students cited the Times as their preferred newspaper despite its monthly subscription fee.
Dobrow attributes this dedication to The New York Times to its efficient and effective Web content.
“The New York Times has done a marvelous job of transitioning to the online world,” she said. “If you look at some of the stuff on the website, there are things that don’t end up in the print edition … they’re brilliant at expanding on what you see in print,” she said.
Freshman Darcy Covert cited The New York Times and Le Monde — a French daily newspaper — as two of her main news sources. She explained her use of this international source as a way to “find a not−so−American bias.”
Dobrow noted that national publications tend to focus more on domestic content.
“The news that we get in this country is so American−centric,” she said. “News doesn’t just mean news from your country.”
Tufts students seem to avoid this bias by utilizing the online community to access various news sources, and many students cited the Arabic−language news network Al−Jazeera and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as their primary news sources.
Although these online sources were the most frequent news outlets students mentioned, television and radio avenues are not completely ignored. Sophomore Delia Baum watches The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to stay informed, while Ahmed cited BBC Radio as one of his favorite ways to get news.
“I certainly think that there is value in looking beyond the online world — television is still a force to be reckoned with,” Dobrow said. “After all, when a major news story like that breaks, do you turn to your computer or your TV? What really stands out is the visual.”
Strauss echoed this sentiment, despite having heard of bin Laden’s death on Twitter.
“After we found out, we all watched Obama’s speech online,” she said.
According to Dobrow, Tufts students seem to have adapted to the various forms of media and are using them to stay informed.
“I’m always careful about trying to characterize students institutionally, but I have found Tufts students as a whole to be very politically aware and engaged,” Dobrow said. “Students do read papers — even if they are online — and students therefore have a pretty good understanding of some of the major news stories that are going on.”