CM1023B Project: Classroom vs Real World - How People Consume the News



News Diaries’ Analysis: CM1023 In-class news diaries


Group 1 Authors: Fiona Battersby, Margaret Griffin, Sage Theiss, Allexa Dunn, Emma Modek, Malak El Mawardy, Fernanda Sapina


AIMS AND METHODOLOGY

This analysis examines news consumption on a local basis - or rather on a classroom scale. Our first assignment in class was to write a week-long news dairy, which is a record of all of one’s activities relating to news interaction. Our aim was to evaluate how often and where exactly we are exposed to the news, and to consider where these findings might take us. After this assignment, our group pooled the 29 students’ diaries and analysed the background and the trends common to the class. Our objective was to provide a qualitative reading of our news activity data to understand exactly how we are consuming the news, how often, and from what source.

Our methodology was a week-long news diary, which every class member filled in. During our analysis, these diaries were closely read and compared, making careful notation of how many students were alerted to news via social media, TV, radio or any other media. The data was collected by noting down in a chart each manner of media reception, followed by the number of students using that specific media. The data was then translated into short paragraphs demonstrating how and why each student was alerted to news.


LIMITATIONS OF THE METHODOLOGY

There were certain limitations to this research. In retrospect, we feel that the news diaries would have been more effective in a survey form so that the data could have been more easily quantified. The survey form would have also prevented the apparent confusion some students felt about how much information to provide in the news diaries: certain respondents provided information that wasn’t related to news activities, and others provided such little information that their information couldn’t be considered in the quantitative data. Another difficulty that we faced was some of the handwriting, which sometimes took longer to decipher. Also, if given more time for research, we could have found even more specific and interesting points of analysis; we would have liked to divide the data into specific social media, specific online newspapers, magazines and other factors that contribute to how students obtain their news.


ANALYSIS

Despite the limitations of the methodology, the data collected was extremely useful thanks to the questions and information given by the students. In general, the data allowed for an insightful investigation and presentation. The data was analyzed by categories, such as different types of sources, languages, and what types of news. This way it became easy to group results and identify trends. The data was considered in its historical context. The news diaries were carried out in the time period covering the inauguration of President Trump and the subsequent demonstrations (the Women’s March) and media controversies. This particular moment in time means that many of the students keeping the news diaries were perhaps more engaged in accessing news stories, particularly hard news stories, than they might otherwise be. After we had categorized the results, we created further sections to simplify and explain the data: we looked at the respondents’ social media presence and usage, access to different media, reaction to image-based media and apps on mobile phones. We also considered the language the news was consumed in as well as its political bias. All of these contributed to the data analyzed as a whole.

From the data collected, we were able to divide the news sources into three distinct groups: TV, social media, and news platforms, which included news apps. We found that not only were students getting their news from multiple different outlets but reading news in many different languages as well. When looking at the different languages in which news is consumed, we observed that most respondents watched news on the TV in English, the second largest majority was French and then Georgian, Arabic and German. For social media again, the largest majority was English and French. Similarly to TV, German was also used, however, other languages such as Spanish, Norwegian, and Farsi were also used for this outlet. For newspaper and news apps, English came in first, followed by French, Spanish and one person used Italian.

Our examination of the news diaries allowed us to identify certain trends and patterns in news consumption. Unsurprisingly, a majority of respondents consumed news via their social media accounts. Another trend was that most of the students in class accessed their news in the morning, or multiple times in the morning and little to none when it was late at night. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that very few students used TV as a source for news. If most of the respondents accessed news in the morning, then they showed little inclination to watch the news on the television at night.

The findings turned out to be just as expected: when it came to social media presence and usage, the users with the most presence on Facebook and other social media were alerted to news via this medium. A close runner-up to social media were news applications like the Apple News app, and unique news applications like BBC, NYTimes, etc. Following was TV, podcasts, and radio and lastly, barely anyone used print media. Access to media was perhaps different because the students are away from home and would perhaps have had more exposure to TV viewing in a family context. This posed a challenge for students to be alerted to national local news (French news) that did not come from social media; but a niche surged: people were also being alerted to local news, meaning news from back home via their parents and friends. This entire new category allowed for the research to be more specific. When it comes to the reaction to images and image based media, there was the limitation of fake news, which benefit from exaggerated images in order to attract attention. Thankfully, none of the news diaries showed signs of entrapment by fake news, but several respondents recounted reading articles about fake news, as well as videos seen of Syria, reported by AJ+. The diaries were pretty well balanced when it came to soft and hard news, so in general, the class is pretty well informed and claims to be able to detect fake news.


CONCLUSIONS

Our analysis of the diaries revealed that the members of our class were clearly engaged with many topics. Finding that the majority of students received their news from social media was expected. Students were well informed on current events, despite the common belief that you can’t trust social media for news. In conclusion, all students seemed to be alerted to both soft and hard news.

The class showed a clear understanding of news and an actual concern for the world. All respondents were informed about the Women’s March, the environment, Trump’s presidency (and what to do to survive it), as well as international and world issues such as the current situation in Syria. We feel that the entire class proved their concern for the world and what is happening, not only locally but in other places as well. We observe with extreme pride that the class is not only aware of social and political issues of major concern but shows a desire to be correctly informed and engaged in the conversations that are necessary for us to address these issues.



Visual Presentation of the Analysis