The News Fanatics

“I am a news fanatic,” history teacher Dror Yaron said shaking his head. “I probably spend too much time keeping up with news. The more you know, the more confusing it is, the more frustrating it is.”

Yaron spends a lot of his time looking at a multiplicity of sources in an effort to form educated and valid opinions. He says that if he is watching the more liberal CNN or MSNBC, he will turn to the more right-wing FOX to get their take on the news.

He religiously reads the New York Times, Al Jazeera and especially the Wall Street Journal, which he says has the best editorial section and goes straight to the heart of the stories.

“I like the wide gambit of opinions, even when it is tendentious,” he said. “To me it is fine as long as you are exposed to a wide variety of views.”

“I do not want to read news that will reconfirm my biases, I want to read news that will challenge and test my views,” Yaron added. “I want it to irk me in the process, so I can reinforce what I think is right or explore possibilities of what might be right on the other side.”

Similarly, Victoria Yu ’15 devotes a certain amount of time everyday to keep up with current events. Every morning she spends about 30 minutes at home and then uses her third period block at school to read NPR, the New York Times and Politico, which she says leans conservatively, so she likes to balance it out with the more liberal CNN.

“It is so important to have context of what you are doing in this world,” Yu said. “We live in LA, and we are diverse and tolerant, generally, but there are things going on beyond our spheres which are not really great. It is so important to picture ourselves in terms of a greater picture.”

“If I had more time and less work, I would read more,” Amelia Miller ’15 said. “It is hard to devote a lot of time to the news with such a busy schedule. But debate forces me to make time, which I value.”

She turns to The Economist and BBC for her news, especially when she has a debate tournament coming up.

Miller’s father — a Washington Post columnist, NPR news show host and candidate for Congressional District 33, a district that includes most of Los Angeles’ Westside — and mother set aside articles from the New York Times or other newspapers that they think she would be interested in.

She says a lot of the sources that she trusts are influenced by her parents and debate coaches.

When David Manahan ’14 wants to check the news, he tries to veer away from fringe media, random websites and the pop ups on Facebook because he feels that in many cases they are factually incorrect. Instead, he turns to the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

“I recently got my first smartphone and have since subscribed to the New York Times,” Manahan said. “It is extremely handy, as I can read on the go. Having news so readily accessible makes it easier for me to keep up. Also, the fact that I pay for my subscription actually encourages me to read. I paid for it, so I don’t want to waste my money.”

Miller also appreciates how accessible news has gotten. Some of her favorite apps are Newsify, which she says condenses news and make it easier to read, and the Economist app, which reads the articles out loud.  

“Technology is also great because you can find global sources and perspectives that would be harder to access without the technology, like Al Jazeera,” Miller said.

Yu said that she likes how accessible news has gotten, but that there is nothing like reading just text.

Grant Pecheck ’15 also appreciates the accessibility of the news, but his concern is that the actual news can be hidden by all of the other things on the Internet and distract the reader’s attention away from the news.

Like Yaron and Yu, Pecheck likes to visit a wide range of sources from the Chicago Tribune and The Economist to the New York Times and The Washington Post. However, the sources he trusts the least are MSNBC, FOX News and the Los Angeles Times.

“What bothers me is when a guy says something and has no evidence to support it,” history teacher Francine Werner said. “Like with Obamacare, there are definitely reasons to debate it. But when you make things up like ‘women and children are going to die,’ then you shut out argument. I find this frustrating because it shuts the people down who have legitimate arguments.”

Whenever looking for her news, Werner goes to sources that can actually support their arguments, whether conservative or liberal.

Werner considers keeping up with the news a hobby and a passion of hers. But despite her interest, she says that she does not always have the time to keep up with politics and looks forward to the summer and other vacation times when she can make even more time for current events.

Zoe Dutton ’15 also thinks that being politically aware is especially important, but because of her heavy school load and varying extracurricular activities, including the Chronicle, it is especially hard for her to make time for in-depth reading during the week.

“Being aware of the news is so important because it informs how we vote,” Dutton said. “Young people don’t take voting seriously, and as a result, politicians don’t care about youth opinions or issues like student loans. The majority of the voting population is older, and that is reflected in our representatives.”

Of the 498 students asked, only 56 considered themselves news fanatics. Most students that said they did not keep up with the news responded, “I do not care,” or “It does not affect me,” while other students answered,
“I go to Harvard-Westlake. I don’t have time to keep up with the news.”

 

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