In the age of social media, an informal survey showed that the Internet has become the most common way for Keene State students to learn about current events.
There has been a huge increase in the number of online news outlets, and a lot of controversy regarding the political bias of several major news stations like FOX and CNN. Online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have changed the way people watch TV, phasing out live television. These factors have caused viewers to cross over to Internet news sources and social media for news in current events.
15 Keene State College students were randomly surveyed, and 10 were interviewed and asked where they typically find their news. None of the students questioned said they typically got their news from television news stations. Rather, it appears that KSC students go to social media for their news. Of the ten students interviewed, two students said they went to Twitter for their news, and two responded that their main source of news was Google alerts on their phones. There were three students who indicated they learned their current events from Instagram, and the last three students selected Facebook, Reddit, and Apple news alerts respectively.
Not a single student surveyed got their news from a reputable news source such as Reuters, or a major national newspaper such as the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times rather social media posts and live feeds. This creates a problem because social media is known for click-bait, shady unreliable news sites, and typically contains more opinion than fact.
According to an article that can be found on newsmediaalliance.org, “While real news sites see only about ten percent of their traffic coming in from social media, according to the Stanford report, fake news sites get nearly forty-two percent of their traffic from social media links. Because standard news sites are easy to visit through direct browsing, and are also categorized by search engines as news.”
Because mainstream news sites utilize search engines, apps, and other legitimate ways of promoting themselves, they don’t focus on social media posting as one of their main priorities. This leaves room for fake news sites to move into the realm of social media and control the content. Even the legitimate news sources who do focus on social media as a way to put information out are still being overshadowed by the catchy titles and fake stories told by fake news sites.
The best way to avoid fake news is by obtaining it from trusted, legitimate news sites. Social media may be convenient and entertaining, but it is not a suitable method to educate oneself on current events. According to assistant professor of journalism, multimedia, and public relations at Keene State College Dr.Marianne Salcetti, there are many reliable news outlets. “I encourage my students to take a look at New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC news, The Guardian. Then there’s some places that will have the scoop on something and will also have links, that would be sites like The Hill, and Raw Story, even places such as… TruthOut and Alternet. But at the same time if they’re going to check out those sources which could be viewed as left-of-center. [For] right-of-center I would encourage them to check out Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes Business Week,” Salcetti said.
William Patti can be contacted at