So Much for the Information Age

If you want to read something scary, look over the following excerpt that I found on Shoptalk.

Last fall only one in 21 students could name the U.S. secretary of defense.  Their grasp of history was little better. The question of when the Civil War was fought invited an array of responses — half a dozen were off by a decade or more. Some students thought that Islam was the principal religion of South America, that Roe v. Wade was about slavery, that 50 justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1975. You get the picture, and it isn’t pretty.

The full article, written by Ted Gup a professor at Case Western boggles the mind.  It also outlines one of the huge challenges facing the future of TV news in particular and IMHO our country in general.  We’ve found ways to get more information out faster to the masses through cell phones, PDAs and computers but overall we appear to know less.  Is it because our feeble brains only have a capacity to absorb so much like a sponge?  Once it’s full, everything else falls by the wayside.  Is it because of apathy and we look at so many things as “someone else’s problem”.  Or have we gotten to the point in this “all about me” society that unless the problem comes knocking on our particular door that it’s out of sight and out of mind.  The really troubling part of this article is that it involves so-called journalism students.  Rest assured that it appears we will know all about Paris even though the world is falling apart around us.

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4 Comments on “So Much for the Information Age”

  1. Paul Says:

    And these are the very people our industry expects us to trust in delivering accurate information? Yeah Joe, we’re doomed.

    It won’t take long before only a handful of Memphis producers will even know how to find Southaven on a map, and the fact that it in Mississppi.

  2. BobJ Says:

    We’ve seen these stories and statistics before, from Baby Boomers to Gen X. Gen Y is the latest group to be labled as lazy tech-happy spolied brats who feel a sense of entitlement. I can remember LBJ being quoted in the late 60’s that our youth needed a “good spanking.”

    While it frightens me to think about what isn’t being taught in our schools, the real world eventually hits our youth between the eyes and the majority of them get smarter.

    I wonder how the children’s parents would do if they had to answer the same questions? Now that might be a reason for concern!

  3. joelarkins Says:

    The matter about the parents of the children is a good point. I will admit, when I first read about the questions these young people were asked, I thought “could I answer them”. Turns out I could. But can everyone answer the current affairs type questions. I find I’m better on a national and state level than I am on a local level.

  4. the tall tv guy Says:

    These stats seem to get worse every few years. Not a good sign. At the beginning of the school year, one of my grandchildren had a big reading problem. Over several weeks, we all took turns having her read to us, encouraging and correcting her along the way. Now, close to the end of the school year, she’s at the top of her class. Parents (and grandparents) get involved and help your kids…motivate them to get good grades.

    I have always enjoyed studying history, especially US History. It’s been refreshing to talk to younger relatives about certain chapters in our country’s past, ask some questions, and see their interest in the subject. (They enjoy it a lot more than art appreciation!!)


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