There is no question that our news media, and the way that we get our information today, has changed significantly. People no longer have to wait for the daily paper or nightly broadcast news for knowledge of events going around in the world. They can just turn on their computers or smart phones and have all of this information instantly, at their fingertips, when they want it. Many scholars and academic writers say that this change has been for the worst. That when presented with a multitude of choices about what kind of news they want to watch, many internet users go for the fluff. Countless academics even assume that our generation is likely less intelligent than generations before us, even though, in many of the studies done on young adults who grew up in the information age, average IQs are actually slightly higher than generations before. So what is missing here? Researchers say we are indeed lacking the concrete knowledge of facts, numbers, and events, but our analytical knowledge (that covers critical thinking and problem solving skills) has gone up. With the vast amount of information on the Internet, we no longer need to be spoon-fed about the news and facts about certain regions. If we want to learn more about what’s going on right now in Syria, we know how to look it up. With a few clicks, we can be connected to a live ticker of news coming out of that area. The relevance and quality of the news media has declined in part because we don’t need it anymore.
I suppose the real question today is: do we need to be fed the news? Do we need people telling us what is important and what we should know without having to look for it ourselves? My answer is a resounding no. With our analytical minds, we know how to find this information on our own when we want it. Having a journalist tell us what is important is just even more noise on top of the sea of information that we already have to muddle through. So no, I can’t tell you the capital of Iraq or where Sudan is on a map, but when the time comes and that information becomes relevant, I can tell you how to look it up.