SIMPSON STREET FREE PRESS: Knowledge of the News is Power

This story first appeared in Simpson Street Free Press. It was written by Simone Rogers, age 17.

In the late 1960's and 70's, young people in America had a cause. Whether they were defending Civil Rights or arguing against the draft, young people were taking to the streets.

Protests against the Vietnam War began in Berkeley, California in 1965. By 1968, the movement had blossomed. Students participated in marches, sit-ins and strikes on college campuses all across the country.

In contrast, kids today often can't see past their smart phones. They would rather check their text messages than read or watch the news.

Young people don't protest often any more because they don't know what's going on in the world. Young people today simply do not care as much about current events as their parents did, according to Paula Poindexter, a professor of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Professor Poindexter has done research on why millenials – or people born in the 80's and 90's – do not engage with the news. According to results of her nationwide survey, millenials don't think thenews applies to their generation. They find it "repetitive," "boring," and "one-sided." But worst of all, Poindexter's study says millenials don't think it is important to stay informed.

I disagree.

I'm seventeen, and I read the newspaper. I believe reading and learning about the news is important. Like it or not, we need to know what goes on in the world. The news contains information that will impact our lives and community.

I read in the paper about numerous issues that I feel are important to young people. Among these is the story about the National Security Agency collecting call records from Verizon cell phones. To some people this an invasion of privacy and civil liberties. Others just want to be sure terrorist groups are not threatening us. The PRISM surveillance program focuses on some of the largest communication companies such as Skype, Gmail and Yahoo. This makes me very nervous. I also read that interest rates on federally subsidized student loans doubled this month which will cost college students using them 2600 more per year on average. As a future college student, this will affect me and others my age.

As voters or future voters, we must stay informed in order to make the right decisions and protect individual rights and the needs of other people. 

Knowledge is power. I am empowered because I engage with the news.

[Source: Bottle Brush Press, College of Communication- University of Texas-Austin]