College students are good at a lot of things, but for the most part, keeping up with current events is not one of those things. And I’m not talking about celebrity gossip, I’m talking about the important current events, like, actual news. Off the top of my head, I can list about a dozen reasons why 18-24 year olds are not, and probably never will be, the news’ target demographic. For the most part, the stories discussed by the major news networks are boring, on TV during dinner time, many college students don’t even have a TV or cable, and most of the events just seem so distant from your life. Unless something dramatic happened in your hometown or maybe a major public official is in the midst of a juicy scandal, you will probably not bother reading anything in the news genre.
This tendency of young people to not care about news is unfortunate. Even if what is happening in Benghazi or the Ukraine isn’t directly affecting us now, it could be some day. In this world where we are all so connected and have access to so much information about what is happening in the world around us, it is a shame that we don’t really take advantage of it. I’m not saying you have to go out and start watching the evening news every night, or that you should be an expert on every breaking news story, but even having a little knowledge about a few current events goes a long way. And when you finally become an actual grownup, you might have to start paying attention to such things for real, how else will you survive a lifetime of Thanksgivings at the adult table?
If you want to start staying in the know, here are some tips for keeping up with the news, without having to actually watch the news or even read a real life newspaper:
1. Start following your “favorite” News organizations on Twitter
One thing college students are good at is social media. I don’t want to make a sweeping generalization here, but I would say that your eyes are glued to your various social media accounts for at least an hour a day (by one hour I mean 3). A quick fix here is to follow some news organizations on Twitter, so that during one of your aimless scrolls through your feed, you may actually see a headline that catches your eye and feel compelled to read an article or two. And since this is all happening on Twitter, nobody will even know you are being an informed citizen. Unless you are so brave as to retweet that article, sharing the role of informed citizen with your peers. And even if you only read the headlines, you will still have some vague idea of what is happening.
2. Have a TV? Tune to Comedy Central.
Even though their original purpose was to satirize the news, shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report have actually become a huge source of news for college students. Even Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are cracking jokes throughout their shows, they are still bringing your attention to some of the most important news stories each day. While actual news anchors can range from being dull and awkward to straight up crazy, Stewart and Colbert are in the entertainment business, so they present their information in an entertaining way. And if you see a story on one of these shows that seems interesting to you, you can follow up on it and get the facts by finding an article about it.
If you have been watching the “news” on Comedy Central for a while already and are ready for a little upgrade, I recommend Anderson Cooper 360. First, it is on CNN so you will automatically feel like an adult. Second, Anderson Cooper is the silver fox of all silver foxes. Those eyes. Wow. Thirdly, the show only discusses about 3 or 4 stories a night, but does so in depth, often by featuring interviews with people who are either a part of the story, or who have a distinct perspective on the event. It is a nice bridge between entertainment and a plain news broadcast.
3. Expand your academic horizons
If self-motivation isn’t really your thing, and you need a little push to get you to stick to keeping up with the news, you can try looking for a class that requires you to do some research on current events. If you are some sort of liberal arts major, this shouldn’t be terribly difficult, as many curricula in the social sciences and humanities may require such a class. If you are a biology major or something like that, see if there are any political science or journalism classes that could fulfill any of your gen ed requirements. If you spend a semester discussing current events a few days a week, you may find that you enjoy reading about such things, and develop a routine that you find you want to stick to after the final.
Keeping up with the news isn’t hard, you just need to know where to look.