Of the 101 responses from the Gen Z Misinformation and News Literacy online survey taken by those ages 16 to 24, only 38% said they were up-to-date with what was happening in their area.
“I take my news with a grain of salt,” said Claflin University junior Charles Wofford. “I think a lot of what we've seen recently is that some news is more biased. We've seen that with Tucker Carlson, and how he went to court due to what really was a defamation lawsuit.”
Wofford said the 2023 defamation lawsuit involving Carlson, Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems, showed him that some journalists focus on their “opinion and not really newsworthiness.”
Fellow Claflin junior Shakira Shirer, said Gen Z don't trust national news because “everything is always so political nowadays.”
She focuses more on local news than national news.
“I feel like local news is important just because you experience that community first hand. Not to say national news isn't important, but I have to deal with my community first,” Shirer said.
But Lee Harter, editor of The Times and Democrat newspaper in Orangeburg, said local newsrooms often face backlash from the actions of national news networks.
“People say, ‘Okay, well, that national media has so much commentary and opinion, I'm tired of listening to it.’ And we get dumped into the same bucket,” he said.
The newspaper is devoted to providing news and being objective, “so that people can make up their own minds,” Harter said.
He advised Gen Z, and others, navigating through news and biases to “look at more than one source” and “be very willing to be critical.”
Harter also said he is not surprised by the survey results and expected more than 62% of Gen Z to be uninterested in local news.
“Most people do not follow local news and that is becoming a characteristic of more and more people to the point where I would almost describe it as a crisis,” he said, adding “It is almost a threat to our system, if people are not educated about what's happening with their government and in their community. To me, that is a ticket for all kinds of bad things to happen.”
News gatherers and reporters are “needed more than ever” and professional journalism can still “win the day,” he said.
“I wish that Gen Z would give traditional media more of a chance. I'm hoping that we see generations, now and in the future, say, ‘I want to be informed. I want accurate information. I want to be able to trust the sources that I'm getting the news from,’” he said.
Tyuanna Williams (she/her/hers) is a senior mass communications major at Claflin University. She is working with YR Media as a Poynter and Google News Initiative Misinformation Student Fellow. Follow her on X: @tyuannasw.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett