The ways media has altered how we know what we know


Stephanie Steiner

Stephanie Steiner | Co-Editor-in-Chief

In today’s digitally laden society, the choices we make on our devices are what determine what we know, whether we realize it or not. As a digital native, I have experienced first hand the consumption of news and knowledge altering as technology becomes increasingly prevalent.

Social media has become an everyday aspect of our lives, and it is now seemingly becoming how we know what we know, almost indefinitely. The apps we decide to download are ultimately what decide our knowledge.

Don’t have Twitter? You may not be informed on a popular show that’s airing live or a new music release or a political debate.

Don’t have Facebook? You probably don’t know what your family is up to or what is going viral currently.

Don’t have Instagram? You’re missing out on unique perspectives of the world and what brands you need to know.

Don’t have Snapchat? You might miss the hilarious day-to-day lives of your friends, even the ones you don’t keep in contact with anymore.

Don’t have Yik Yak? You may be missing out on anonymous negativity and pointless complaining. (Can you tell I don’t care for Yik Yak?) But sometimes Yik Yak does reveal current societal issues that are hidden behind names and faces.

But what about news? The hard journalistic articles that inform our communities about what’s happening, in-depth with facts and interviews. It’s scary, but the social mediums listed above are now the avenue to getting the public to know the important stuff – which means news needs to work harder to make itself prominent in the already digitally consumed world we live in. My challenge to those reading is to remember that stories, not only the glimpses of stories we receive on social media, are what we need to keep our humanity. Stories are the avenue to a fuller life. Media is such a great tool, and it should be used to continue documenting our worlds. But we need to continue to have conversations with others and tell stories about our experiences and where we came from. We need to use media to meet people around the world, share our talents, and embrace our unique outlooks on life.

Human connection is inherently narrative and ultimately makes us who we are.
— Dr. Andrea Frantz
Professor of Media Studies, Buena Vista University

Here are some news outlets that are conforming to the “concise news” nature of our society:

This AM by Refinery29: This app gives you eight top stories every morning and works like a social media feed. You scroll through each headline and have the option to read the entire article if it interests you, and avoid dealing with having to sift through the other chatter on your social feeds. The app offers the basics of what’s new in a quick moment before tackling the day.

theSkimm: Using email as their outlet, theSkimm sends a newsletter to your inbox every morning with a quick look at what you need to know. They read and sift in order for you to skim.

NYT Now: The NYT Now app offers free access to the most important articles of the day, including stories from sources other than just the New York Times. Refresh throughout the day for new stories. The New York Times has always killed the news game, so I highly suggest checking this one out.

Buzzfeed: Instead of getting all of your Buzzfeed news from Facebook, you can get it right from their app (and they do report on things other than viral videos and cats).

Skimmin: Combining news and social media, this app publishes a fresh digest of major news stories and then lets users upvote the best opinions about the stories, creating a fun and simple forum.

Photo by Stephanie Steiner