As someone who has spent three-odd years as the web editor of her undergraduate school newspaper, this post should come as no surprise. What might come as a surprise is this confession: I never used to actually read any of the newspaper articles that were printed.
I had come up with a way of skimming and typing, copying and pasting, mindlessly transferring the words from print to web without ever spending any time sitting down and really reading what my peers had to say. Why? Well, I was always in a time crunch. The website needed to be updated ASAP, and I had better things to do with my time, so I cranked out the work that needed to get done, and then tossed the paper aside until the next issue. I’m horrible, I know, but luckily, I learned my lesson.
Eventually I realized that I needed to start paying more attention to what was going on, not only on my campus, but in the world at large. I downloaded the USA Today app on my phone, allowing it give me updates whenever new headlines would come out. But even that got old, and I found that I was rarely ever actually opening any of those articles when they sent me notifications about them. I still have the app, but in the years since I downloaded it, I’ve turned off the notifications and have all but forgotten its existence.
Similarly, I started following Buzzfeed News on Twitter and the Ann Arbor News and the Society of Classical Studies (with archaeology news) on Facebook. Social media in general is a great place to follow news sources because they not only give you the headline, but they often times give you brief descriptions of the news story so you can pick and choose what you want to read about. Additionally, your friends are probably posting about things that you care about so you can follow along that way, too.
However, my favorite way of staying informed, as is my favorite way of reading in general, is the old fashioned way of picking up a newspaper and taking a few minutes to glance through it. You don’t have to read it from cover to cover – pick a few things you care about or that seem interesting and read them. I’ve started picking up the Michigan Daily, a campus newspaper that addresses both campus issues and national issues as well as pop culture and sports, every week and reading the headlining article and a few others that catch my eye. It keeps me informed about what’s going on in the world but also familiarizes me with what’s going on in the city I’m living in, too.
Whatever way you choose to do it, pick up a newspaper and read it every now and then. Once a week isn’t a burden; if you’re reading the newspaper once a week, that’s enough to keep you up to date with what’s going on so you don’t look like a total idiot when you hear someone talking about something important. It’s also a super cool tool for starting Real Adult conversations, because if you read something interesting in the paper, you can bring it up with a colleague or friend and then you’ll be talking about The News and you’ll age like ten years. But in a good way.
There are plenty of free ways to keep yourself informed – TV, newspapers, phone and iPad apps, social media. Find one you like and try to read something once a week.
Don’t let the Real World sneak up on you. Stay informed.