I’m one of those people who plans out arguments, so should the need arise, I will completely obliterate my opponent. My absolute favorite comeback is if someone challenges me on the truthfulness of an event one of us has read about in the news — I can respond with, “I am the news!”
While the statement may be hyperbole, through Generation Next, I am part of a group of young people who have the power to shape what the future of journalism shakes out to be.
Baby boomers are the generation of Americans who consume the most news, and they are also the generation that is most picky about where and whom they get it from. Local TV news stations are the perfect combination of familiar and easy to consume that make them the most trusted source of news in the United States, according to the Knight Foundation.
But that’s not where we get most of our news. Not even close. According to a 2019 study from the Pew Research Center, 86 percent of American adults (not including seniors) consider getting their news from social media to be tolerable to preferable. Because screens are convenient and reaching into your pocket for your phone immediately sends your brain a brief surge of dopamine, people are inclined to use them as their main source of receiving new information. Online newspapers are a natural compromise to the changing literacy landscape.
But when many newspapers shifted their presence from print to digital, not everyone was willing to take a bite. Many news consumers are annoyed at paywalls because so much of the internet is perceived as free to access. Admittedly, I don’t pay for a subscription to some of the papers I read and just triage the information I can get from my free monthly articles.
Unable to support themselves with fewer customers, some newspapers are forced to run articles that have been purchased by a company to be advertisements in disguise.
Society increasingly turning to free internet publications to get news is not the only issue we face. A rise in terms like “fake news” and giving more power to hyperpartisan groups has caused many people to assume anything they don’t like is false information.
As a young person, I grew incredibly pessimistic in this landscape. Being on the staff of the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Generation Next has turned the negativity I feel surrounding most current events and this culture of misinformation into optimism.
The issue of “fake news” has been talked about in waves for a while but has never been really addressed with concrete solutions. I think this is because some people don’t pay enough attention to care, and the rest of us feel like we’re powerless. But if you’re reading this, and you’re between the ages of 14 and 19, you’re not. There is an opportunity to become involved and create the work you want to see.
In August, former Generation Next writer Emma Lawrence reached out to me to participate in a Speak Out and explained Gen Next to me, as I actually hadn’t heard of it. In the process of explaining, she mentioned they were hiring and forwarded me the application. As a writer, I’ve discovered a receptive audience. People read and care about the issues published in our paper. I’ve received quite a few emails from strangers and unprompted acquaintances telling me they’ve read my work.
Working with Gen Next, I’ve had the freedom to write about what I think is important, such as mental health, trans equality and how the Black Lives Matter movement played out in New Mexico, while interviewing some really amazing people.