An Open Letter To High Schoolers: The News is Worth Paying Attention To

Ali Caudle, Reporter

Ali Caudle
There are countless news sources accessible online for your convenience.

One common critique of teenagers is that we are self absorbed. We’re egocentric, self-centered, and only care about ourselves.

You could argue this point, insist that you care about other things and other people, but you’re rendering your point invalid if you don’t show that.

If you spend all of your time on your phone Snapchatting, Instagramming, taking selfies, uploading videos, streaming shows, and playing games, you’re like the majority of high schoolers. But, like the majority of high schoolers, you are using this incredible technology at your fingertips for instant gratification.

That phone or tablet or laptop is magical. That device can connect you to the entire world. Through it, you can learn about anything instantaneously. One of the most magical aspects of this technology filled world we live in, is that the instant something newsworthy happens, information about it will be uploaded online.

You don’t need to wake up early and spend an hour in front of the TV watching the cable networks to get the news. You don’t even need to pick up a newspaper, or any physical papers. Your device can deliver the news to you, whenever and wherever. It doesn’t take much effort.

By absorbing the news, you become more aware of the world around you, and you are able to understand what is going on. Sure, one benefit is that you can sound smart when you are talking to adults about current events, but you should also be learning these things for yourself, so that you know what else is happening in the world. So you can learn about the lives of people besides the ones you interact with day to day.

You have no excuse to ignore the news. Prefer to watch? You can stream a video from CNN on your phone. Prefer to listen? NPR puts out fantastic and informational podcasts, and they run news shows on the radio as well. Prefer to read? Almost every newspaper, from the Missoulian to the New York Times, from the Lance to the Washington Post, has a digital version: an app, a website or both.

When you read the news, you learn how to be a better citizen. It helps you to make more informed decisions, such as who to vote for, or who to donate money to. It exposes problems, and only by learning about those problems, can they be fixed.

For example, consider the 6-pack plastic rings that enclose packs of drinks. When the news broke that they were killing sea turtles, environmental activists took note and articles were published about the issue. People read the news about them, and then many stopped purchasing drinks packaged in them, or at least began to cut them up before throwing them out.

These actions likely saved the lives of many marine animals, all because humans communicated, shared knowledge, and paid attention to the news. The media can be a powerful force for good.

In our society, media and journalism are not as valued as they once were. This should change, and they should be utilized, because through learning about the world around you, you learn more about yourself.