What the “News” page of my phone looks like

Poynter Institute’s Melody Kramer posed a question to the internet earlier today, asking people what their first memory of being aware of the news was. Since I missed my opportunity to be part of her recap story I thought I’d share my own experiences and thoughts here. There are three major things I think of when I think of my earliest awareness of “the news” being a thing.

First is the Sunday Chicago Tribune. This was bought by my father first at a small independent (I forget the name) convenience store in Berkeley, IL on our way home from church and then, when we changed churches, at a White Hen in Elmhurst, IL. In the first case, we would park along Taft Ave. and cross the street to go into the store, where my brother and I picked up a paper – making sure to select a copy that had the Comics section since sometimes they didn’t – and usually asked if we could also get Hostess Cupcakes or SnoBalls or some other after-church treat. But we had the sense that it was important to read the paper to get all the local news.

Second is along those same lines. My maternal grandfather read both the Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times each day. Since my brother and I would spend most of our summer days over at his house and since he for some reason didn’t just subscribe to the papers, we would either drive with him or just walk on our own to one of two nearby convenience stores where, again, we would get the paper and either buy on our own or ask for a comic book from the rack, a package of Garbage Pail Kids cards or something like that. But it was fascinating to see my granddad return home, lean back in his recliner and spend the rest of the day going through every column inch of both papers. If there was an example for me in how to consume the print news, this was it.

Third, as with most people, there were the big events that shaped the world around me. For me those two are 1) Reagan being shot and 2) the explosion of the Challenger. I was in kindergarten for the first event and remember clearly some of the media coverage that my parents would watch on the evening news, the discussions about that coverage in my classroom and more. And then with the Challenger, I can remember being in class watching what happened on TV and then discussing for days afterward the news that was coming out.

News is important. The consumption may have changed over the last 30 or 35 years from the experiences of my childhood, but the purpose remains the same: To be an informed person. I wish I had the time to read more of the mobile news apps I have on my phone or to read more of the stories that come in through my RSS feeds. But while I may not always have time to get into the nuance of what’s happening, that doesn’t mean it’s alright to shirk my responsibility – one we all have – to be informed and aware of the news both around us locally and impacting us from around the world.