By Alexi Cohan SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
How informed are you when it comes to current events and news? If asked about the front page of The New York Times, would you be able to answer? According to a new study conducted by The Pew Research Center, the answer is most likely no.
The Pew Research Center recently issued a quiz to test the public’s knowledge of the news, and the results are quite unimpressive. American people know far less about global, national and local news than they should.
The questions covered a wide range of topics, including ISIS, the federal minimum wage and the Israeli Prime Minister. Most would be considered general knowledge, yet 14 percent of people answered four questions correct out of 12, and 13 percent answered only a meager three questions correctly. Only one percent of people who took the test knew all twelve answers. These are shameful results.
Knowing what is going on the world is crucial, yet there are so many people in our country without a single idea of current events making headlines each day. Why is the American public so uninformed?
Some argue the public is too busy; they do not have time to watch the news or read the paper. This excuse is common, but it does not stand. With today’s technology and access to information, keeping up with the news does not need to take much time. Following news accounts on Twitter, downloading news apps, or simply scrolling on a website for five minutes is better than nothing.
Others cite media bias in the decision not to pay attention to current events, but that is no reason to stay uninformed. Are some sources biased? Of course. The challenge lies in picking out the reliable sources from the rest. The public should seek out these sources instead of remaining uninformed.
The midterm elections are just around the corner, and most voters do not really know whom they are voting for. It is easy to complain about elected officials, but if voters brushed up on the candidates, we would all be in better standing. Every election, thousands of residents blindly go to the polls with hardly any knowledge about the candidates for whom they are voting.
As Americans, we pride ourselves in our democratic right to vote, but our democracy cannot be strong if voters are unknowledgable. When the majority of people going to the polls do not know about current events, then who are we voting for? The quiz included many election-relevant questions, which most couldn’t answer. Where does this leave us as a country?
Americans should know much more about news and current events. Voters have the responsibility to be informed in order to make responsible decisions on election day, and at this point, we are not doing our job. Everyone should make an attempt to stay informed by reading the paper, watching the news, or skimming some news apps every day. These results from the Pew Research Center quiz demonstrate that society needs to reevaluate what is most important to focusing time on. If Americans want to see things change, we need to first inform ourselves.
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