College Students Read it, Watch it, then Pass it on

Social Networking and News Link-Sharing Changes the Way Students Stay Informed


Published: April 17, 2008

Kids are like sponges: they retain anything and everything. Growing up, your brain picks up a lot, whether it’s 10th grade chemistry or your older cousin’s version of the birds and the bees. Acquiring little pieces of information through word of mouth or through more legitimate sources, like books and newspapers, makes us powerful and all knowing.

Recently, The New York Times published an article stating that college students were conduits for information. The article explains that instead of using typical news sources such as television and radio, students use sites like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace to copy and paste video links to pass on to their friends. It continues to say that students are more likely to get their news fix from online sources like instead of a newspaper, television or radio report.

But for Fordham students who were asked if they consider themselves a part of this media revolution, the answer wasn’t always “yes.” Those who get most of their political information from the Internet do so frequently, while others were either cut off from news media altogether or chose not to get their news online at all.

Some students are dedicated to their online news sources. Surfing through news links and reading stories that are updated on an hourly or up-to-the-minute basis becomes a livelihood. Seun Shokunbi, FCLC ’08, agrees that the Internet is a great way to find news fast and keep your friends in the loop.

“I still go to the news stories on TV but follow the links as a serious medium. Recently, I sent a video of Hillary Clinton on her trip to Bosnia through Facebook’s fun mail application. I was trying to back up what I said about her to my friends. My friends send me these links, too, and, no, I don’t mind. I expect it,” Shokunbi said.

Other students prefer the traditional route when it comes to being informed. A tangible newspaper and trustworthy broadcast journalists are evidence that the news is real and that hundreds of people are being informed the same way, at the same time.

“I use the Internet to get my info but rarely go online. I don’t really use the Internet that much because I think people are becoming really dependent on it. The only way the Internet is part of my routine is when I check my e-mail account. I get my political and everyday news information from the paper or CNN. I do click on news sites that flash up at me while I’m online if they interest me,” said Lindsey Brahm, FCLC ’08.

Comedic news broadcasts are  cited as competition for serious news broadcasts. The humor draws many young viewers in and keeps them entertained, but simultaneously up to date.

“I don’t really take part in the whole sending links computer thing. I watch different news programs to find information. I find out what’s going on through Comedy Central programs, through people like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. It’s on Comedy Central but they still talk about news. I think you can’t believe everything you see on the computer even though it’s a good medium for research and to get yourself out there,” Brian O’Connell, FCLC ’11 said.

The consensus of the Fordham student body is, “If it’s important enough, it will find me.” This is a common theme in the New York Times article. Technology has advanced to such a degree that people no longer have to search for stories because of a plethora of resources like texting, pasting links, Facebook, YouTube, and blogs that have made it possible for us to be idle, yet fully informed.

Despite variations of media usage, Fordham students agree that their information about the news does not come from just one source. Though some do send links and clips to their friends, others feel there is no need because chances are that with all the information and technology at hand, their friends already know about it.