With the World Wide Web, there’s no excuse to be uninformed
By Sarah Stubbs
Alongside a lot of other excited Americans, I was on the edge of my seat Monday night as I watched live-updates of the Iowa Caucuses on social media. My eyes were glued to my iPhone. I kept refreshing my Twitter timeline, swiping left and right back to my messages, then back to Twitter, and then to my New York Times app.
My little sister was texting me, “So why is Iowa so important?” My fellow communication majors and I were swapping memes and messages about our excitement and concern for the future of America.
Around 11 p.m., it was announced that Ted Cruz won on the Republican side. At midnight, it was a “virtual tie” for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. At one point, Sanders was trailing Clinton at a mere .02 percent. Both Sanders and Clinton celebrated this tie as big-wins for their campaigns.
According to Fox News, nearly 40 percent of Iowans that casted in the caucus were first time caucus-goers.
Without a doubt, this election will continue to be record-breaking. I suppose we can thank radical candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders for this, but I think that most of it has to do with the digital era we are living in.
Live-tweeting events is more popular than ever and the more controversial the event, the more entertaining and informative live-tweeting becomes. With trending hashtags and the new Twitter Moments, we are living in-the-moment as much as we possibly could be.
The flood of posts that pour in from all over the world when much anticipated events occur, like the Iowa caucus, can become overwhelming, but this fast pace is pushing journalists, brands, and businesses to stand out and offer fresh insights.
This is where “understanding the news” comes into play. Browsing my timelines on Monday night, I noticed a few categories that posts seemed to be falling under.
Specific trends that I noticed include breaking news or the sharing of statistics and facts, opinions, and stories that helped answer the burning questions of the public. A lot of those questions seemed to be: What is a caucus and how is it operated? Why is Iowa so important? and What’s next?
A few months ago, I discovered Vox Media. Vox is an all-online news organization that’s founding premise is “understanding the news.” They take fresh angles on stories that are trending throughout the world with a special emphasis on answering those questions that everyone is asking. In fact, when my sister asked why Iowa was so important, I turned to a Vox article I had
read earlier that day that straightforwardly answered that question: “Why do the Iowa caucuses matter? Because everyone thinks they do.”
Other helpful posts that I saw throughout social media recently include Snapchat’s “Good Luck America” story, and the Washington Post’s “Iowa caucuses: Here’s how the voting works.” Also, while the caucus was wrapping up, the New York Times and many other news organizations were displaying a live graphic of the polls.
Granted, stories like this have been being written since before the Internet. But with the digital storytelling that is happening now, citizens have almost an unlimited amount of options when it comes to educating themselves about current events and the nuts and bolts of those current events.
As a journalist, this is extremely exciting. The reason why I love journalism so much is because I feel that it has an invaluable role in society. Informing citizens in the most thorough and robust way possible is so important for the health of our nation politically, economically, and socially.
As US citizens, or global citizens – really, this is exhilarating, too.
I have never learned so much so quickly about the government or the election process as I have in these last few months and for that, I can thank the Internet.