Posted by: rovingrebel | October 17, 2011

Who Tells You What to Think About?

“Since a newspaper, for example, uses only about 15 percent of the material available on any given day, there is considerable latitude for selection. . .”

“. . . On an average day, a greater number of people reported participating in discussion of the election than hearing a campaign speech or reading a newspaper editorial. From all of this, the au- thors conclude that personal contacts appear to have been both more frequent and more effective than the mass media in influencing voting decisions.”

The above two quotes from this week’s readings really struck me. I think we all know that the news really can only cover a small percentage of what is happening on any given day, but a measly 15% just floored me. It also left me wondering if the ever closer to real time news cycle of today brings us a higher percentage of the available news, or just more coverage of the news that fits into that traditional 15% of news.  Where do people get their 15% of all news from? This question drove me to find out a little more. I was surprised to find a study from the Pew Research Center in September 2010 Americans Spending More Time Following the News.

According to this study the average American Adult spends 70 minutes daily consuming the news up 3 minutes from 2008.  70 minutes and just 15% of the available news worthy information. Wow, to think of all the important, potentially world changing topics we don’t hear about or have time to learn about.

The second quote reminds me that our interaction with the news is not limited to our personal time spent with individual media outlets. We must also look at who we discuss the news with and how their views and consumption patterns affect our own. How often do we ask others in our social circle about important topics of the day? How diverse are the members of our social circle in their backgrounds, views, and opinions? How does this diversity or lack thereof solidify or change our own views and opinions?



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