The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

EDITORIAL: Students should prioritize local journalism

In a world where misinformation spreads like wildfire on social media and local news is vanishing faster than ever before, college students should be more cautious in choosing where they obtain their information.

Given the decline of local news, in recent years, many young people have increasingly been relying on social media sites such as TikTok, Instagram or Twitter for their news. 

A study from Ofcom, a communications regulator in the United Kingdom, discovered that teens are increasingly preferring to stay informed via social media rather than journalistic media. It found that Instagram is the most common way for young people to get their news with TikTok and YouTube being used prevalently as well. Another study discovered that 70% of Reddit users, 66% of Facebook users and 59% of Twitter users get their news on each respective social networking site. Solely relying on social media for new only breeds misinformation.

People enjoy those punchy headlines and hard-to-believe stories that can be found on social media. A study from the University of Southern California found that, when exposed to fake news, users’ social media habits doubled or tripled based on the amount of fake news they shared. 

It’s not only users who are to blame for the rapid proliferation of misinformation online. This type of behavior is rewarded by social media algorithms. The more clicks something gets, the more people it gets pushed to. Users are exposed to conspiracy theories, clickbait, hyper-partisan content, pseudo-science and at times “fake news” reports, all of debatable validity. This type of content that garners extreme reactions is often prioritized. 

Social media reinforces an echo chamber of confirmation bias that leaves us vulnerable to misinformation. It creates “filter bubbles.” Filter bubbles are a term coined by Internet activist Eli Pariser. Pariser describes them as intellectual isolation which can result from when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information it’s collected about the user. This phenomenon is what contributes to the proliferation of misinformation on social media.

Social media distorts the reality of what is really going on and creates a feeling of being overwhelmed by the state of the world. With the decline of local news social media has created a vacuum where misinformation is able to thrive.

For these reasons, young people must support and consume our local news. Local news is much less susceptible to misinformation because it lacks the algorithms which escalate it. The collapse of local news would only serve to increase the spread of dangerous misinformation. 

Research in recent years has found that local news encourages social cohesion and political participation. Local news organizations are intrinsically linked to the communities in which they serve. This makes it a much more trustworthy source of information than news on social media which is completely disconnected from us and the issues we face. It allows community members to stay informed about issues that directly impact them and creates a shared culture beyond political beliefs.

As citizens, we are provided with agency and power from the information that local news provides. It allows us to connect to and advocate for our communities and make informed decisions regarding the community. 

It is particularly important for those of us at Marquette who are not native to the Milwaukee area to consume local news in order to participate in the community. Many students are uninvolved in the greater Milwaukee community. Students should resolve to be more involved in Milwaukee affairs. As college students, we have a responsibility to stay informed and engaged in our communities. By supporting local journalism, we can ensure that our communities remain vibrant, informed and connected.

Editorial topics by the Marquette Wire are decided at weekly meetings between members of the executive board. The editorial is crafted with leadership by the executive opinions editor. The executive board consists of the executive director of the Wire, managing editor of The Marquette Tribune, managing editor of the Marquette Journal, general manager of MUTV, general manager of MUR, editor of Diversity and Inclusion and ten additional top editors across the organization.

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