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Digital news trades quality of information for quantity

Stories about plane crashes, hot celebrity couples and the world’s largest cow are just some of the many disparate news highlights accessible through social media.

From Snapchat to Twitter to the New York Times app, news now takes on a wide range of formats and styles becoming ever distant from the old fashioned paper newspaper.

However, while the quantity of news has greatly increased with the advent of the internet, its overall quality has suffered. 

It is hard to use any social media platform without coming in contact with the news—making it an easy and accessible source of information.

Whether it is politicians promoting their campaigns, the NBC Snapchat story, or a friend sharing a post about the burning of Notre Dame, the news is inescapable online.

The use of social media to disseminate news has mainly focused on engaging youth, and news sources have experimented with creative and engaging ways to appeal to the younger generation.

For example, the New York Times recently posted quizzes on their Instagram story about the week’s news stories in an attempt to make news more interactive.

The NBC’s daily Snapchat story “Stay Tuned” attempts to mix the serious and the entertaining through videos of young journalists covering a wide range of topics, from recent terrorist attacks to the latest viral YouTube hit.

Therefore, it is not surprising, given my generation’s short attention span, that instead of picking up a newspaper and spending 20 minutes reading one story, we are increasingly picking up our phones to watch 15 minute videos covering a dozen news highlights. 

While the quantity of news stories and the methods of their dissemination have greatly increased, their overall quality has decreased.

In order to access reputable news sources, one has to wade through semi-professional stories and celebrity gossip that dominate many social media platforms.

On Snapchat, next to the NBC story about the deadly shooting in Colorado is the tempting headline “Uhh… James Charles is Going Blind?!?” by the unrecognizable source “Wishbone.”

Therefore, it is increasingly easier to learn about celebrity gossip rather than the depressing reality of serious news. 

Furthermore, my busy life as a college student makes it hard to find time in the day to read the news.

Like many Carleton students, I have the New York Times app on my phone and receive push notifications about breaking news stories which I can quickly read before class or while doing homework.

Social media in general speeds up the process, as gaining access to a physical newspaper or even going to a newspaper’s app to sort through news stories takes more time than multitasking by learning the news while simultaneously catching up with social media. 

In today’s modern world, major news sources are trying to stay afloat by digitizing and inventing creative ways to make news more appealing to younger generations.

With the plethora of news available online, we are faced with the difficult task of deciding how and where to receive our news stories.

Given the accessibility and convenience of social media, college students are increasingly drawn to platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram to receive their news and in their limited spare time must navigate between catching up on the latest Kardashian drama or recent Mexican border disputes—a less obvious choice than one might hope to believe.

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