Monday, October 02, 2006

Resources for news in a Florida classroom

Every day my high school senior comes home and regales me with stories. It’s one of the highlights of my day, sitting down around 4 p.m. with her. As she packs in the food, I listen, appreciating not only her storytelling skills but her perspectives as well. I also appreciate the blessing of thin people who can eat multiple servings of carbs and never gain a pound.

Today, it came as a complete surprise to me when my daughter told me she isn’t allowed to use the Internet or newspapers either as a resource for her honors history class (American Government). The only acceptable source is television news.

You can imagine my surprise. For one thing, there is no better resource for information about politics and world affairs than the Net, provided you go to reputable sites. For another, television news is often skewed politically one way or the other. For yet another, there isn’t an anchor who bears the charisma of the old guard, all of whom are gone now. The possible exception to this is a fellow named Shepard Smith. He does a show on Fox News. It’s straight news, with no commentary or as best I can tell, no advocacy platform. I don’t watch it very often, because I don’t watch much TV anyway.

I am around a lot of teens and college students, courtesy of my daughters. I have come to one conclusion and I don’t need a survey to back me up.

Young people get their news from the Net mostly. If they’re watching TV, they aren’t watching news. Young people will also read the Entertainment section in the newspaper. Young people in Jax will read the Sports section because this is where the Jags live.

As for omitting newspapers as a news source, that is an intellectual ripoff because print media often provides more in-depth coverage than the Net or TV. What about magazines? What about books? With elections pending, books will multiply like Florida lovebugs in September, and believe me, those little bugs are everywhere right now. When I sit outside with a cup of coffee, I check it to make sure there aren’t a couple of those flighty critters swimming around in it.

It’s a teacher’s call on how to run a class. It’s my call to comment on that and anything else of interest. Freedom to opine is a small perk (all the perks are small) of being a freelance writer in a free country.

Come to think of it, that freedom began with newspapers long ago.

A few of my many favorite links:

The Drudge Report

Time Magazine

Google News

NewsLink (includes links to newspaper, TV, radio)

Christian Science Monitor

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