News reputation’s impact on student news engagement

By Jaewon Yoo

Students and young adults across the nation have developed a negative and disinterested view towards the public news media. A study revealed that only 22 percent of millennials seek out news daily, according to a research conducted by Dr. Paula Poindexter, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and author of “Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past?”

“The press has a history of ignoring almost every generation in its youth, and they have ignored the news back” Poindexter said to a class of students, speaking as the founder of News Engagement Day. “Just think about what’s going to happen to the post millennials if this decline continues.”

Over the years, studies have shown it has become increasingly apparent that the amount of student news consumption has been on a decline. On top of an already low 27 percent of young people following the news all or most of the time, research also displayed that only 10 percent of young people claimed to trust the information from the national news media, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2016.

The public news media has had a history of different reputations, from being called the watchdogs of the nation, to being labeled the “enemy of the people” by the current President of the United States, Donald Trump. Experts working in the news media today have claimed to feel the changed atmosphere towards the field of journalism.

“We are at an age of disinformation” Courtney Norris said, a production associate for PBS NewsHour. “ The industry is under attack by the President of the United States who has repeatedly referred Washington reporters as “the enemy of the people” and started chants at rallied shouting “fake news” with supporters wearing t-shirts that read “rope the journalist.”

From observing the continuous trends towards the topic of news media and its relationship with the public, bias was a notable factor of what drew people away from acknowledging media credibility. Eight-in-ten Americans said that they see at least some bias in news coverage, showing partisan bias as the most common subject of bias with 69 percent of Republicans saying that bias tilts liberal while 36 percent of Democrats see a conservative bias, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

“I think the news media is pretty biased” Tiffany Lin said, a freshman biochemistry major at UT. “It was when I was following the presidential election when I started hearing things about news being biased, and the whole “fake news” thing. But after I watched it myself, I saw how biased it was on both sides. Like CNN and Fox are on opposite ends of the spectrum.”

Senior psychology major, Hyder Bangash, who also shared similar views with Lin, said “I’ve observed some significant incidents that have gone unnoticed on mainstream media, and some are only reported to promote an existing ideology that seems to serve the press. If they were only trying to make sure news gets out to the general public, they shouldn’t be cherry picking and report wholeheartedly.”

With examples of students like Lin and Bangash, it’s accurate to say that students are labeling certain public news stations to be biased towards a specific partisan group, leading them to distrust certain news platforms and have a negative view towards news credibility as well.

“It’s unfortunate that television news watchers can pick a television channel that corresponds with their views and politics. Journalism is supposed to make you uncomfortable, and that’s not for everyone” Norris said. Regarding this issue, Poindexter said “real reporting is not liberal or conservative, it’s good reporting.”

It can be clearly stated that student news engagement, as well as pubic news credibility is at a timely low. Based on the listed statistics and facts, the influence of bias affecting the reputation of the public news media has become a notably recognizable phenomenon.

“It’s no longer enough to keep up, you must be able to identify truthful reporting and identify real news from fake news. If there was no news, how would we know what’s important?” Norris said. “Good reporting doesn’t tell readers how to process the information, but it puts it in circulation and as a result, educates.”