Everyone needs to consume news

Before COVID-19 dramatically altered everyday life, I used to enjoy a 45-minute commute to and from work. And yes, I did say I enjoyed it because it gave me time to get my mind right.

During my drive, I would listen to podcasts and KMUW, my local National Public Radio station, to get a majority of my news fix.

Though not commuting has helped my wallet by not requiring gas fill-ups so frequently, it has altered my news consumption when compared to my old habits.

For podcasts I subscribe to, I try to listen to The Daily while I get ready each morning, but my getting ready doesn’t take long enough to get through an entire episode. So then I try to finish while doing other chores around the house or while I’m working and grading. 

The same goes for Post Reports. It comes out in the afternoons, so I just have to work it in. 

With the other podcasts I subscribe to, I listen to them when I can. Maybe while I’m mowing, pushing my daughter in her swing, or just sitting outside on the patio.

The point is, it is hard to get all of my podcasts listened to during the day, and most of the podcasts I listen to are news-orientated. 

Industry-wide, podcast consumption is down roughly 20 percent due to COVID-19, according to Podnews.

Of course, Inside Radio suggests consumption might increase, especially since “Nielsen says media consumption in the U.S. is already at historic highs. Its most recent Total Audience report showed Americans are already spending just under 12 hours each day with media platforms.”

However, that line of thinking assumes too much. It assumes people are at home under normal circumstances. Podcast and other media consumption that is part of a normal routine will undoubtedly be disrupted, just as everything else is impacted.

Maybe podcast and media consumption will increase, but perhaps then the type of content being consumed will change, as Voxnest suggests.

I don’t have the answer, but I do know that my news consumption has changed. I read, listen and watch when I can, but the times when I do have shifted in a huge way. This is largely due to being home and having children to tend to. Their needs supersede everything else. 

It makes me wonder, though, what the long-term impacts of this will be. Will people stop subscribing to their favorite podcasts during this time and then never go back? Will the change in viewing times forever alter the media landscape for television programs?

I haven’t cut any podcast subscriptions yet, but, as I said, keeping up is difficult. Also, I used to watch the local news in the morning before going to work. Now, I don’t. I don’t get up as early most of the time, and, even if I do, there is usually a child that needs attention. 

Of course, we have gotten into the habit of watching the evening news as a family while we eat supper, so that’s helped balance out my news consumption a bit, especially since we didn’t always watch the news during that time because we were all just getting home and trying to get ourselves in order.

During the day, I used to have CNN on in my office as background noise and an opportunity to expose my students to the news when they would come in to chat. I don’t spend time in my office anymore, though, and I have a toddler who doesn’t always appreciate my choices in television programming.

And that’s the reality of now working from home, or at least attempting to. Nothing is really the same.

Of course, with people sitting at home more, clutching their phones and laptops close to do their jobs, I hope people subscribe to local news publications they are certainly reading on their devices. I have a subscription to our local newspaper, and I read the issue voracious each Thursday when it arrives in the mail.  

I’ve also been toying with the idea of make another donation to KMUW and subscribing to a couple regional and national news outlets so I can read the news online. It would keep me informed, and it would support important journalism, especially in a time when many news organizations are cutting staff because advertising is slowing due to people staying home and not spending money on the goods being advertised. This is happening even though people believe the media is doing a good job of covering the pandemic. 

It’s a tough time for everyone now, but quality journalism is what we need the most. 

We need to be informed, and that doesn’t mean just watching President Donald Trump’s daily press briefings, which are little more than a platform for Trump to shout at reporters and pat himself on the back for what he perceives as a great job of dealing with this crisis.

It means understanding what the experts are saying and learning the human toll this virus has on our friends and family. 

It means reading and watching trusted news sources. Regardless of the nonsense spewed from the White House, outlets such as, but not limited to, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and your local news organizations can be trusted and should be turned to first for information.

Believing everything you see someone share on Facebook isn’t being informed. That is being mislead and buying into the propaganda machines of various entities. 

True journalism holds our leaders accountable and speaks truth to power.

They provide a vital service, which is why in these times of stay-at-home orders journalists have been deemed essential. People need to be informed with true and accurate news.

So even though how I consume the news has changed, it doesn’t mean it is no longer important to me. 

And it should be important to you.

Maybe you normally prefer the sports news, and that is fine. But you should still read the non-sports stuff too. Being informed is vital to a democratic society. 

So go support journalism. Consume the news. And pay for it.

It doesn’t matter where or how you do it, but consume the news so you can know what is going on.

As The Washington Post says in its slogan, “Democracy dies in darkness.”

Journalism illuminates. 

Again, even if you want sports news or business news or whatever, without subscribers, that type of coverage may not come back after COVID-19 is a thing of the past. If news organizations cut staff because they don’t have revenue now, there is no promise those jobs will come back, which means those stories may go uncovered.

That would be travesty.

We can’t let journalism and an informed society be a casualty of the virus. 

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About toddvogts 837 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at twitter.com/toddvogts or via his website at www.toddvogts.com.