Students seek out info-tainment, international news

Molly Emmett

There is an interesting paradox that appears when students enter college. In many ways, staying up to date is easy and encouraged, whether through intellectual class discussions of current events or the less academic, ubiquitous presence of Facebook and Twitter. On the other hand, it is just as easy to get so sucked into the campus community and college life that one forgets there is an outside world. This duality certainly occurs at Whitman, but for those who make an effort to keep up with the news, there are some sources that are more popular than others.

On a campus of mainly liberal young adults, one type of news source that comes to mind is late-night talk shows like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with John Stewart. This type of coverage is filled with current events, but presentation is in an unconventional, satirical manner. An alternative to the nightly news reports aired by channels like ABC, FOX and MSNBC, these parodies are what senior Carolyn Hart calls “info-tainment.”

“I think [Stewart’s and Colbert’s shows] are popular because they mix humor and politics,” said Hart. “However, a lot of times they provide more commentary on media than on politics.”

Another way that students stay informed is through the radio. Stations like National Public Radio and shows like “DemocracyNow!: The War and Peace Report” provide listeners with segments on a variety of news in a straightforward manner. Though these stations both run webpages with written coverage, listening to the news can be preferable to other modes because it allows one to multi-task, an important skill for college students. Both news outlets are independent and promote a more global focus than other sources.

As DemocracyNow! listener and senior Simi Singh said, “American journalism is not the best. I often have to go elsewhere to look stuff up.”

Finally, there are students who find traditional newspaper and magazine coverage the most accessible. Whether online or in print, some students regularly check The New York Times headlines or subscribe to weekly magazines like The Economist or Newsweek.

“I use the New York Times website because it has such a breadth of topic. It’s easy to click on things of interest,” first-year Sam Adler said.

Not only do these sources have reputations for breadth of coverage, they also provide options for more depth.

“I get magazines because I think it’s important to read long-form journalism,” said Hart.

In the end, the key to staying up-to-date seems to be finding balance between participating in campus life and staying reminded of the world outside “the bubble.”