Pay attention to the news — our futures depend on it

This is not a news story. This is an opinion story. This story reflects my personal beliefs, perspectives and judgments. It may seem blatantly obvious in this case, but in the media, oftentimes it is not. 

The blending of fact and opinion is constantly being perpetuated by social media and our phones. So before I can even begin to explain why the news is important, I must clarify that when I mention “the news,” I am not talking about opinion pieces. I am talking about objective, factual information that reaches us through professional journalism. 

And it is simply vital for high school students to pay attention to that information. The news not only strengthens our understanding of the world around us, but it also helps us formulate our opinions, which empower our decisions for the future.

It is true that keeping up with the news can be overwhelming. It can feel as if there is an endless avalanche of information that just keeps piling on to no end. The combination of local, national and international news can be exhausting. So why go through the sometimes painful process of reading, listening and watching crisis after crisis?

We must do so simply because the news reflects reality, and reality is important. This is the world that we live in, and there is no use in attempting to ignore it.  Whether or not it directly affects us, these events are happening. Diverting our eyes from the news means we are diverting our eyes from the real world. 

The news provides us with a window into actual experiences and perspectives that we may have no other way of seeing. It teaches us of cultures, pain, happiness and lives outside our own. It helps us see past one-sided views we have of people and places. It deepens our understanding of the constantly changing events, issues and characters in the world as well as right in our backyards. It inspires us, entertains us, opens our eyes, helps us analyze perspectives and makes us appreciate our experiences. 

As a result, we can form educated, informed opinions about our society. How can we say we support a certain policy when we know nothing about its global impact? How can we say we believe strongly in something when we know nothing about its influences on real, living people? How can we take a stance on immigration, gun, environmental or abortion policies when we know nothing about their consequences regarding our country, let alone the rest of the world? The answer is, we cannot. We cannot develop informed beliefs of our own without knowing what is happening in the world, our country and our community. 

Dennis Duffy, a social studies teacher and mock trial team coach, expressed the significance of high schoolers forming their own opinions. 

“You are your own person,” Mr. Duffy said. “And students need to go through this process of developing what their viewpoint is, what their ideology is, what their opinion is…so that they can become an informed, engaged citizen.”

So the news not only strengthens our personal views and perspectives but also empowers us to act upon them. The news provides us with the information to make the best decisions about our lives, our government, our communities and our society. 

A prime example of this is the upcoming presidential election. With election day being less than a month away, Matthew Wahl, a social studies teacher and Model UN advisor, stressed the heightened significance of staying well-educated on current events for high schoolers.

“[The presidential election] affects your lives directly,” Mr. Wahl said. “So you have to know the issues and how you stand on them. And it’s extremely important to be informed, especially with [students] being able to vote pretty soon.” 

So I urge you to put in the effort. Expand your bubble. Better yet, emerge from it. Find news sources that are reliable and trustworthy. Find ways to keep up with everything that is going on. Keep yourself informed and aware. Let the news empower you. To strengthen your beliefs. To make decisions. To take action. To shape the future.Start engaging with the news by finding a news source you trusts, start reading/writing/listening, and continue to engage with it consistently.

Sarah Wuh