Fall in young newspaper readers indicates move toward ignorance

I was appalled by a conversation I overheard in class Tuesday. Two women were discussing why one of them had the Wall Street Journal on her desk. She said it was for a class, and went on to complain about how ridiculous it was for her professor to expect students to read it every day. The other woman actually sounded relieved, saying how it would be weird if she read it on her own.

And this was even in a class required for journalism majors.

I was amazed.

No wonder so many students don’t know what’s going on in the world around them.

The number of students reading newspapers is continually decreasing, and students are less informed about current events than in the past. The percentage of adults age 18 to 24 who read the newspaper on a daily basis has decreased from about 44 percent in 1998 to 34 percent in 2007, according to statistics on the Newspaper Association of America‘s Web site.

If this trend continues, how much will ignorance spread in another 10 years?

A survey conducted by Common Core, an education research organization, reported that fewer than half of teenagers surveyed didn’t know the answers to basic history or literature questions. Think of how much of a problem this will become later if people aren’t even aware of events that are happening now. Adults won’t know anything about our history if this continues, whether it’s from the 1700s or 2000.

There seems to be a general disinterest in affairs occurring outside our individual “bubbles.” Many people think that if it’s not affecting them, then it’s not of their concern. But it’s important for people to stay informed with news from around the world or at least within their own nation.

So the next time you pass by a newspaper stand in the Student Center, go ahead, pick up a paper, even if your professor doesn’t require it.

Liz Davidson is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Austin.