Reliable News in the Era of Trump and the Internet
By Alisse Osornio
The news industry is experiencing a new dilemma, it is under attack in America, a place where the founders of the country greatly valued freedom of the press and all it stands for. Thomas Jefferson once said, “If a nation expects to be free and ignorant at the same time, it expects what never was and never will be. Where the press is free and every man is able to read, there, and there alone, democracy is safe.” Jefferson is speaking on the idea that it is our civil duty to remain informed on what is occurring within our own government. In order to properly run a government like America’s information is key, the citizens must be informed in order to use the democratic system.
The news industry is of course, different now than it was in Jefferson’s time. Many citizens rely on television news programs to give them a brief update on what is happening. That’s the issues with television news; it is brief and lacks the substance to properly inform an audience on current, pressing issues. While this is an important aspect in news it is not the most important.
In a an article published by Atlantic monthly in 2010 discussing television news, James Fallows wrote, “Accounts like those are certainly valuable, but they will be all the more significant if they are buttressed by reports from people who are paid to keep track of government agencies, go into danger zones, investigate and analyze public and private abuse, and generally serve as systematic rather than ad hoc observers.” People with certain interests infamously put on a front to mask their true motives and taking them for their word is foolish. Another news source many use now is social media. Sharing articles and thoughts is certainly important, but the internet is at an age now where it is quite simply, too easy to create false information that seems reliable at a brief overview. There needs to be someone fact checking and researching to understand what is occurring. At notable news publications around the country people are paid to ensure the information they print is correct, with little to no political agenda backing it. Think about it this way, the bank is not going to give a large loan to someone with bad or no credit history. It comes down to credibility. A newer news publication has no reputation for being thorough in their research whereas a newspaper with a legacy does.
The news industry is in a dilemma in recent times thanks to the internet. It is harder to gain revenue online rather than in print. News publications are under pressure to find a solution in order to keep revenue streams that enable them to pay their staff and costs. Recently when speaking to the editor in chief of The Salt Lake Tribune, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, she introduced the idea of a pay wall, a block from further content until a small fee is paid. Basically users would be able to preview an article before selecting to read further, and they have a limited number of articles they can read for free before they are no long allowed to read further. This brings in the question are people willing to pay for online news?
While this would have been outlandish a mere decade ago this notion has become more reasonable in time. Both The New York Times and The New Yorker report increase in millennial subscription rates since 2016. The millennial generation is 18-35 year olds who many would consider unwilling to pay for news. What could have caused this increase? Político.com reports two viable causes, “The first is that subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Spotify have conditioned young people to be more willing to pay for quality content. The second is Trump.”
More and more entertainment options have online subscriptions, whether it be music, movies, TV, and even shopping subscriptions. It has become more acceptable for companies to ask for a small fee monthly to provide premium services, and people are willing to pay for it. Over 52 million Americans pay for Netflix in 2017, according to statistics from statista.com. That’s after they took the Kardashians off too. Spotify has over 60 million subscribers worldwide according to their website. These statistics show people are willing to pay for quality content.
Donald Trump has approached the press in a way no president has before, with general disdain. Politico reports that “As President Donald Trump wages daily war against the press, millennials are subscribing to legacy news publications in record numbers—and at a growth rate, data suggests, far outpacing any other age group.” He challenges any criticism of himself or his administration in the news calling it “fake news.” Donald Trump himself, is not silent in his disgust with news media, “Network news has become so partisan, distorted, and fake that license must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked, not fair to public!” Donald Trump said on Twitter. President Obama was consistently ripped apart by various news publications and has yet to call them “fake” or “losers.” Others around the world are starting to take notice as well, “It’s really quite amazing when you think that freedom of the press, not only sort of a cornerstone of the US Constitution but very much something that the United States defended over the years, is now itself under attack from the President,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said regarding President Trump. The president uses every opportunity he has to insult news publications and their journalists personally, and this attitude is rubbing off onto the far right.
Despite President Trump’s claims that he stands up against fake media coverage, he has been a supporter of James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, a foundation involved in the Washington Post sexual assault sting. An employee of Veritas attempted to contact the Post with a false allegation against Roy Moore, in order to invalidate the experiences of other women who talked to the Washington Post. An article published by The New York Times, Donald Trump’s foundation donated $10,000 to Project Veritas and Trump has supported O’Keefe’s work throughout the years. Many supporters of O’Keefe claim the corruption in the news media and politics is more important than the shady methods they use to expose it.
The future of the news business is not clearly written out, it is up to us, the next generation to find a solution. Although it may not seem easy new, bright minds are getting educated everyday, the future for news is bright, “Fifteen years ago, Fox News did not exist. A decade ago, Jon Stewart was not known for political commentary. The news business has continually been reinvented by people in their 20s and early 30s.” James Fallows, a reporter for The Atlantic, expressed. Although times under the current administration have been bleak at times for news publications, they will survive. News is more than entertainment as entertaining as it may be sometimes, it is essential to the growth and success of our nation. George Washington once spoke on civic duty and the power of knowledge in our society, “Promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”
America’s Age of Education
Economists estimate an 8% increase in income per year of college education
By Alisse Osornio
Holiday season means two things: colds and college application season. Family parties turn into battle fields where soon-to-be-graduates battle the dreaded questions of the future while asking themselves the same ones. This really brings into question, is college worth it? From an economic point of view, it does. Economist and well-known author Steven Levitt said, “The best estimates that the economists have are that each extra year of education that you get is worth about maybe an eight percent increment to your earnings each year for the rest of your life.” Each year you attend higher education you are projected to earn more money. This makes it easier to pay off any student loan debt as well.
Another thing to take into consideration is the difference in quality of life for college graduates versus high school graduates. While there may be some outliers in this, most college graduates see better job security, more working years, less time unemployed, and overall a high salary because of their education. Not to mention the overall happiness in the workplace, college graduates experience more freedom and opportunity to pursue a career they enjoy.
As society progresses, many seem to think a college diploma is almost as common-place as a highschool diploma. This is untrue, as society advances there needs to be as many people in the technological field as possible to keep it moving forward. David Card, professor of economics at UC Berkeley said, “I would say that returns are even higher now because of the recession. People aren’t thinking about it right. So they notice that somebody who graduates from college is having a bit of hard time getting a job, or they notice that the unemployment rate for college grads has gone up a little bit. But if you do the right counterfactual and say well what if I didn’t have a college degree, it’s much worse. The rise in unemployment was much higher for people with just a highschool diploma. As has always been true in every recession, the recession is always worse for less educated people.” People’s fears of college are irrational.
There is also the idea that people don’t need college to become successful, but that frankly is just not true anymore. It is so incredibly difficult to make it without the experience and networking opportunities. As Karl Roves, former Senior Advisor to the President and one of the rare non college graduates with immense success, said, “I mean, I think I was in the last generation that could be stupid enough not to get a college degree. We live in a society in which credentials matter. I mean, the Bill Gates of the world who go on to found Microsoft after, you know, dropping out of Harvard are few and far between. The Karl Roves who go on to be, you know, Senior Advisor to the President after, you know, never completing your degree are few and far between.” College is worth the price more now than ever.
Despite the fact that tuition costs have risen in the US, college has become more accessible than ever to those without the financial means to attend college. Justin Wolfers, professor of economics and public policy, has a positive point of view on the effects of this, “I actually think it’s wonderful that Harvard has raised its sticker price. Very few people pay the sticker price, only the kids of the super-rich, the people who get none of this financial aid and assistance, and so on. So the higher sticker price is essentially increasing price discrimination. We’re charging the rich more for college. The question we really need to ask ourselves, are we charging the working and the middle class more or less. That’s a much, much harder question. Knowing the sticker price tells you very little about that.” While college is expensive it’s almost at the least expensive point it could be now. Someone who does not have the financial means to go to an Ivy League school is now able to if academically, they are capable.
College isn’t for everyone, but there are other options for furthering your education. You can go to a trade school for a more hands on learning experience. If you are nervous about attending a large school, you can attend a smaller school. There are ways to save money and stretch your money in college too. David Card gives some examples of ways to save money, “You don’t have to live in the dorm. You can live with your parents, which is what they do in all of Europe. You don’t have to go to the elite private school. You can go to the best public school you can get into. And the reality today is the majority of kids going to college are working part-time.” Where there is a will, there is a way.
Overall, college is worth it for the average student and average person, but you may not be the average person. There are still options out there for you too. Betsey Stevenson, economist and professor of public policy, sums up the argument very well, “Well, the debate is about is it worth it for the marginal kid, and if it is, what should they be doing, what should they be studying, why is it going to matter for them? And so if you’re trying to figure out for an individual kid what’s going to be the return for them, I think it’s a lot harder.” If you have considered college but feel there is no way for you to do it, talk to your counselor, your teachers, and learn about the options and opportunities available to you.
Why Doesn’t News Stay Relevant?
By Cameron Justice
At this point it seems almost tedious just trying to keep up with what's going on just in your community, let alone your country or around the world. This probably doesn’t seem bothersome to you, perhaps you don't even care to stay updated, no one could blame you. It is beyond easy to keep up with pop culture and trends, and it seems that the only information the vast majority of us care to access is the easy information. This isn’t to say it’s too hard to access other information, (for now) just that most of us aren’t willing to put even a minute of work into updating and educating ourselves.
With the repeal of net neutrality just around the corner, and the lazy readership of the country at an all time high, we’re left to wonder, just how uneducated on current events will we be in the coming years? 2017 has come to a close, but it feels as if the year had just started. So much happened in 2017 that it couldn’t be summarized in just one article. However, the truly irrelevant information and occurrences of the year are all we can remember. No one could really explain why such big events, tragedies and political issues take the limelight for a maximum of four days then somehow are never heard of again. Could it have something to do with our use of social media? Or perhaps it's just that tragedies, politics, and anything that isn't made up of light and playful material stresses us out and we make a conscious effort not to acknowledge them. Whatever the reason, it can and will lead to issues in our society.
As a whole, the general public is very uneducated on things going on around them. Which is worrisome for a plethora of reasons, perhaps the most worrisome being that the obvious corruption we’re surrounded with will never be properly dealt with when we’re too desensitized to it to even acknowledge it. Our news and media consumption comes in definite patterns, and they’re clearly being used against us.
Our information is already being sold and used against us, Facebook already controls what we do and don't see on Facebook, and our consumer habits are used to provide relevant ads, and recommended pop culture. But there is never any actual news in the “recommended for you” section. This year we’ve seen some of the biggest tragedies that have been seen in years, the Las Vegas shooting, Hurricanes, civilians and children around the world victimized by wars fought over greed. Things that should have been bringing us together as a people have created more divide, and in return created even more tragedies. This may be a fault of biology. We as a species are more inclined to engage in conflict over personal interest than we are to come together for solutions to issues.
Only we as a people can prevent, control, and recover from the issues we’re creating, but we’re so busy opening up new wounds and still debating and spreading hate over the same old ones, that the idea of a unified country, let alone a unified world is genuinely impossible. Perhaps it's just in our nature to hate, the same way it's in our nature to love, but only directly and selfishly.
Humans can do great things, but recently it seems all we do is spew hatred for people with any different beliefs, views and ideologies than our own.
If we can't come to peaceful conclusions over something as simple and obvious as climate change, how will we ever come to agreed solutions on anything else? But when the entirety of our attention span goes towards arguing over the least relevant topics, how will we ever solve real issues? We won't, we couldn't at this rate, we will just continue to spew more hate, ignore the news as much as we can, and continue to be seduced by our own fake pop culture. The relevant will always be rendered irrelevant and vice versa if we don't make a change, and it appears as if we won’t, at least not until it's far too late.