Social Media: The best resource for getting news?

Go to your full history page and tell me what your first page look like. You don’t see the blue “f” box or sky blue “t” box? That’s awesome! Give yourself a high five.

Well, mine were filled with blue boxes. I knew I spent a lot of time on social media, but when my guilty pleasure habit was revealed like bare skin, I deleted my history instantly.

My internet search history.

My internet search history.

I always feel like I am under informed. Sometimes I get really lazy, and I get help from social media to briefly go over what’s happening around the world. I am like a baby who wants to be spoon-fed with news sometime.

In fact, the percentage of getting news online has been increasing over the years. According to Pew Reserch Center for the People & the Press, in changing news landscape, even television is vulnerable. Even though televisions are the most popular source to get news, but over the years, online news sources are catching up.

Trends in news sources in America

Trends in news sources in America

But let’s be honest. Even if I did catch up for the day, I must start over again after walking up from a five- hour sleep. Also, just being in front of my laptop tempts me to focus more on light websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

I am suffering from this dilemma. I wanted to know how UAlbany students are catching up with news and if they are using social media to do so.

I asked four UAlbany students and all of them represent unique demographics: upperclassmen, underclassmen, older students and international students. They had different ways to get news, but there was one point that they all agreed on.

The first thing Smiley Rojas – Numez, a senior accounting major, do when he first wakes up in the morning is checking updates from Engadget, The Verge and the New York Times on his phone. According to Rojas – Numez, he checks these blogs for two hours everyday.

Smiley Rojas- Nunez's home screen

Smiley Rojas- Nunez’s home screen

“I check in the morning and later day,” said Rojas – Numez from New York City. “It is interesting to see how the news develops within the day.”

Not only Rojas – Numez, Melissa Bala uses her apps on her phone to catch up with the news.

“Even though the school provides print version of the New York Times and USA Today, there is no need for print version because I get the same news on my phone,” said Bala, a sophomore Communications major.

Bala was checking Facebook at her work so I asked her how often she checks her Facebook and if she could get any current news out of it.

“I go on Facebook everyday, but I don’t necessarily check it for news,” answered Bala.

Bala checking her Facebook at Alumni Quad Gym

Bala checking her Facebook at Alumni Quad Gym

An upperclassman Rojas – Numez and an underclassman Bala had many things in common. They do not seek news from social media to begin with.

I wanted to see how other unique demographics of UAlbany would get their news: international and older students.

Sharon Frederick, 64, is one of my classmates in my Ethnology of Region class. I sat by her since beginning of the semester. After class, I got a chance to chat with her about her ways of getting news.

“I receive a copy of the Times Union every morning,” said Frederick. “I often listen to WAMC radio station.”

Frederic feels like there is so much more going on each day. Just like how I felt! I wondered if she used social media to catch up with the news stream.

“I use Facebook about an hour a day,” replied Frederick. “But I don’t see any news on there.”

A junior General Studies major Frederick feels satisfied from getting local and national news on Channel 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Sharon Frederick enjoying her book in class

Sharon Frederick enjoying her book in class

How about the students from China, where Facebook is blocked by the government?

One night, I knocked on Pengfei Shi’s room. Shi was eating dinner in front of his laptop and his friend Zhe Jiang opened the door with a big smile.

I asked the website that Shi is on and he told me it was the Chinese version of “Facebook.”

Pengfei Shi checking his RenRen account while enjoying his dinner

Pengfei Shi checking his RenRen account while enjoying his dinner

The RenRen (人人) Network is a social networking service from china, and it is very popular amongst college students, according to Jiang.

Literally it’s just like Facebook. In fact the service helps to connect with previous classmates.

“RenRen is not the right place to seek news updates,” said Shi.

I was interested to know if China would have a similar version of Twitter.

Jiang scrolled through her cellphone and she showed me the app of the Chinese version of Twitter Sina Weibo.

It worked just like Twitter. The only different is the language.

Jiang's Sino Weibo account

Jiang’s Sino Weibo account

The picture of the former World Trade Center burning down popped up while I was checking her Sina Weibo. I counldn’t understand what it was saying, but I assumed the update was about commemorating September 11.

All of my interviews did not find social media as a good source to find news.

“People who only check social networking service for news are under informed,” said Rojas – Numez.

Rojas – Numez told me that he often checks Al Jazeera website, a news network headquartered in the Middle East, for unbiased news.

Bala said she checks Google News and U.S.A. Today for news, while Jiang goes to CNN or CCTV, the largest Chinese TV network.

It’s really tempting to rely on social networking service for news, but the all the students that I interviewed find their own unique ways. They are all coming from different background but agreed on one thing. Social networking service is for the social life but it’s not an appropriate source for news.

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