SNN: Engaging on News Engagement Day
Somerville, Mass. – Some Somerville residents pay attention to local news, but others think it’s too sensationalist. These were among the opinions Somerville Neighborhood News (SNN) heard during a series of interviews conducted in Union and Davis Square recently.
SNN, the city’s only TV news show, did the interviews as part of a nationwide effort on Oct. 7th called “News Engagement Day,” meant to raise awareness about the importance of news and of engaging with the news.
Somerville resident Devin Ulibarri said he started to really follow local news when his rent skyrocketed. He started to pay more attention to politics and got interested in how local government works, he said.
“I just want to know what’s happening in the neighborhood and my local community,” he explained.
Rachael Haynes, out with her dog in Davis Square, wasn’t quite so plugged in. She told SNN that she finds local TV news sensationalist and that she sometimes consciously avoids it.
“It’s a lot of information and I kind of get scared. So I just don’t watch the news. I see a lot of bad things happening,” she said.
Zoe Harris, another city resident, agreed.
“If there were more positive stories reported I would definitely tune in,” she said, noting that a lot of local news is “violence, crime, fires, murders.”
“It’s depressing and it’s not representative of what actually happens in most people’s daily lives. I wish it was just more reflective of what most people experience every day,” she said.
Scott Benjamin, a coach and professor at Bunker Hill Community College, does try to say abreast of local news.
“It effects my life, it’s my town. Things that happen here in Somerville or the surrounding areas impact my family and me, so I pay attention,” said Scott Benjamin.
National News Engagement Day was launched by journalism educators in an effort to “revitalize the public’s engagement of news, regardless of generation,” according to its founder Paula Poindexter, 2013-2014 president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).
On Oct. 7, students, professors and journalists in 41 states and a half-dozen countries undertook activities like handing out buttons and wristbands to bringing dogs onto campus with signs that say “news hounds.”
AEJMC circulated an interview clip from NBC Nightly News anchor and editor Brian Williams as part of its outreach effort.
In the clip, Williams said he was especially concerned about young people growing up “essentially news free.” He jumped on the News Engagement Day bandwagon because, he said, he wants to make sure younger generations understand that keeping up with and engaging with the news “can be downright vital.”
“Imagine a day when everyone engages with the news. That is the goal of National News Engagement Day,” Williams said in the video.
“The old ways – read, watch and listen – have been joined and replaced, in some cases, by words like ‘Tweet,’ and ‘post’ and ‘like’ and ‘link’ and ‘share’ and ‘discuss.’ These are all words of engagement,” he added.
SNN will be following up with a survey of the city’s media outlets and of the media where the city’s residents get their news. The results will be discussed on the Oct. 21 newscast and also published on the SNN website.
If you want to get involved in National News Engagement Day, check out http://www.newsengagement.org/ and/or tweet #NewsEngagementDay