Current Events: Real News for Real People
A key aspect of being a well-educated student is being a well-informed student. Studying and following the curriculum in the classroom is a great start. However, to become engaged and active citizens in our complex society, students—and parents, teachers, and everyone else—must constantly seek out information and knowledge on their own.
Following current events is something that happens naturally for a lot of people. It’s not particularly hard in today’s world where there is no shortage of information waiting to be shared and consumed. Unfortunately, much of the information and news available is neither credible nor reliable. The existence of the Internet and influence of social media has only exacerbated the problems with sorting out the real news from the fake news.
Because of these issues surrounding current events, Ally Learning is offering a few tips on the best ways to follow news and stay informed in today’s complex world.
World, National, and Local
The most common type of “news” people follow tends to be frivolous for the most part. Sports news is common among certain demographics while entertainment and celebrity news is more popular with others. It’s not a bad thing to keep up with the things that entertain us. Plus, sometimes events in the sports and entertainment worlds can do a lot to educate society on its problems (see: Concussion crisis in football, issues of diversity in film and TV). But for the most part, significant newsworthy events in our society deal with real, everyday people.
There are three general areas of news: World (international), National, and Local (city/metro and state).
- World: We live on a big planet. There are over two hundred recognized countries and thousands of various cultures. It’s impossible to know everything about these people and places. Still, it’s good to know what the most pressing concerns in the world are.
In recent years, the biggest global story has been the civil war in Syria. This was a story that many people didn’t pay attention to until it started to impact them personally. The rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis had a real impact on western societies. However, because much of the mass media failed to cover the initial story appropriately, many Americans have become fearful of these developments. Misinformation and false facts are constantly being shared on social media and other outlets (and politicians). See also: the Ebola crisis in western Africa.
Our media needs to do better where international news is concerned. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population lives outside the United States. Their stories matter as well. A way for us to demand that they do better is for us to be active and learn as much as we can through various sources. See Sources section below.
- National: News that is primarily focused with the United States. Obviously, there is a lot of intersection between national and world news. This happens when you reside in the most powerful country on earth.
The 2016 Presidential election was a national story. Again, many media outlets struggled to cover this story. Some stories got too much coverage while others didn’t get nearly the amount they deserved. And many voters received “fake news” via social media site such as Facebook. The consequences of the 2016 election are national stories as well. Many people felt that the talk of politics should have ended with the election. In truth, the real stories began on that day.
For those motivated to get involved and have a say in national policies, keeping up with daily news events is a necessary starting point.
- Local: Local news stories have the greatest impact on our everyday lives. After all, we can see these events play out in person and not just on TV or the internet. Local story most of care about is the state of Michigan’s roads and infrastructure. This is a problem that is most likely be solved by local governments.
Just like with world and national, there is a lot of intersecting between local and national stories. The Flint water crisis is a recent example of that kind of story. But for stories that are exclusively “local”, information can be harder to come by. Information can be found out about these races in regional and township/city periodicals. This is where resources such as a local library can be most helpful. Public libraries often keep local periodicals and newspapers on hand. Continue reading onto the next section for more information about sources.
Sources: How and Where to Receive the News
- Cable News: The media landscape gets bigger by the day. It wasn’t that long ago that there were only three broadcast networks on television. Now there are several cable news channels and even more news channels available to stream on internet supported devices. Plus, Metro Detroit has its local TV news stations. While receiving news via television is fine, we recommend that it not be the sole source of any one person’s news gathering. After all, the late-night talk shows that parody cable news are sometimes more informative than cable news itself.
- Newspapers: A free and independent press is crucial to American democracy. Freedom of the Press is specifically mentioned in the First Amendment of U.S. Constitution. Back when the Constitution was written the press referred to newspapers. Over two centuries later, newspapers remain the most vital part of the mass media. Yes, the speed and ubiquity of the Internet and cable news have financially hurt newspapers. However, they are still the most respected institutions by other media outlets look to them to do the investigative journalism that we all need.
Here in the Metro area we have the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Of course, newspapers now have a large presence on the Internet themselves. A subscription for the daily paper isn’t necessary to get news from these sources. The websites for the two local papers are www.thedetroitnews.com and www.freep.com. There is also www.theoaklandpress.com for residents of Oakland County. Furthermore, many smaller communities have weekly or monthly papers. As mentioned earlier, local libraries (a vital resource it and of itself) should carry these periodicals.
- Other Internet Sources: Newspapers aren’t the only valid news outlets available on the Internet. We provide links to news stories every week on the Ally Learning Facebook page. We always provide articles from respectable and trustworthy news sources. Unfortunately, we cannot speak for the rest of the news shared on Facebook and social media in general.
When browsing the web for news, we recommend to be mindful of the agendas of the various news organization. A good way to check for validity of an article is to find separate articles that tackle the same story. Searching Google News is a great way to find multiple sources on a news topic.
An Ally in Current Events
The subject of History is taught in the classroom. Additionally, students enroll in Social Studies and Civics/Government courses throughout their academic careers. Classes will touch on and break down current events occasionally and some teachers may even require a weekly current events assignment. These subjects don’t deal exclusively with current events but they do serve as a good starting point in students becoming interested in their society.
A proactive approach by the student is needed in following the news. This self-disciplined method of educating oneself can be difficult given all the problems discussed in this piece. Fortunately, the staff and tutors at Ally Learning emphasize the importance of current events to our students and their parents. We will continue to offer advice on how best to stay up to date with the news of the day. Together, we will keep the news real.