I’m not leading by example in the first assignment I’ve ever handed out.
Go ahead and call me a hypocrite. Or a phony. This certainly falls into the category of do what I say, don’t do what I do.
On Friday in my first day as a rookie teacher in Florida Gulf Coast University’s journalism department I told News Literacy students to institute an all-day news blackout on Sunday.
That’s today, I believe.
And I mean all day, from midnight to midnight. No newspapers. Well, that’s the easy part for young people today. But that also means no NPR or “Meet the Press” or CNN or Fox News.
It mean avoiding news website from the Huffington Post to Breitbart to the New York Times and those of the Fort Myers News-Press and Naples Daily News.
No weather forecasts. No NFL playoff games this afternoon. No news feeds on their phones, tablets and laptops.
How are they faring?
I have no idea.
I believe the point of this exercise is that news is everywhere. There is little refuge, virtually no escape from news. News is breaking out all around them. If they go to a gym and work out today can they avoid seeing televisions with news shows or the Jaguars-Steelers playoff game?
Do they have jobs in restaurants or bars that have televisions constantly tuned into ESPN of MSNBC?
Will friends text them news from the White House or the score of a college basketball game or the latest Hollywood gossip about an actor’s indiscretions? All are news. News is everywhere, bouncing and zipping and darting through cyberspace and crashing into homes, offices and dorm rooms all day, every day.
It’s not even noon yet and I’ve been swamped by news. I’m at my mom and sister’s house in Dunedin. At around 7:20 a.m. I bundled up and walked out to the front yard on a chilly morning and picked up the Tampa Bay Times, a paper I first read in 1961, when it was called the St. Petersburg Times.
I read today’s Times over my breakfast, a bowl of Special K and glass of orange juice. Then I checked Bay News 9 for the weather forecast. After walking the Pinellas Trail I watched part of the “CBS Sunday Morning” show with my mom, who turns 87 on Tuesday.
I’ve glanced at the New York Times website.
I know there’s no way I could get through a day without news. I plan to watch football this afternoon. That’s news.
I’ll probably check at least part of a newscast this evening and Facebook friends will likely post news items that I can’t avoid.
News is omnipresent, here, there and everywhere, seeping into and at times overwhelming our lives.
I’ve always been a news nerd of sorts. Even at Rio Vista Elementary School in St. Petersburg in the 1960s I regularly read newspapers. I started reading Time magazine in high school.
I can recall watching Walter Cronkite on CBS giving the evening news all the way back in the 1960s.
This immersion in news and reading may explain why when I was a Northeast High student in St. Pete I took one of those aptitude tests and measured in the 99th percentile in social studies. I’m not sure what is meant by social studies but suppose it means some combination of currents events and history.
News and newspapers and magazines and newscasts and football games have always been part of my life. I need to know things. More than that, I must know things. That was the case long ago and likely was reflected in that aptitude test.
A relentless and questioning curiosity should be part of every news consumers’ daily life. By the way, I hate the words “news consumers” but believe it is part of the lexicon for the class so I figure it should be used here.
A news blackout for me?
Not a chance.
I wonder how the students are faring.