How to stay politically informed in college
By Carter Chapman
If you’re on social media or watch TV, you’ve probably seen a few political advertisements for the upcoming 2020 elections. This year will be huge for politics, especially in the state of Georgia, where voters will not just pick a president, but also two senators and every House member. With all the information you are going to be bombarded with, it can be hard to know what’s really important and factual, especially with work and school going on too. Here are some tips to keep up with all things political while in college.
- Integrate the news into your life and routine:
You don’t have to change your entire life to stay informed; just make the news part of your day. One of the easiest things to do is follow journalists and news outlets on social media. If you’re already on Twitter all day anyway, it’s very easy to become more informed by following a diverse group of news sources and journalists.
Another great source is podcasts. Many top outlets such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR publish daily podcasts recapping headlines and highlighting important and interesting stories. It’s easy to pop in your headphones while walking around your neighborhood and get caught up on what you need to know for the day.
- Get involved on campus:
Students have been involved in some of the greatest political movements in American history. The civil rights movement was spurred on by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In the ‘60s, students across the country joined forces to push for freedom of speech on campus and an end to the Vietnam War. Today, political organizations on campus give students the opportunity to meet with others and discuss different ideas and issues that apply to their lives.
At UGA, the Young Democrats and College Republicans bring together students to hear from candidates and officials. Other organizations advocate for specific issues, giving students the opportunity to focus on what is specifically important to them. There are also non-partisan organizations where students can support voter registration efforts and open dialogue across the political spectrum.
- Take advantage of the resources offered to you:
Colleges offer students plenty of opportunities to stay informed conveniently. UGA students have access to a free Wall Street Journal subscription, and Grady students can access the New York Times for free. The student newspaper, The Red & Black, is an excellent source for local and statewide news. Different schools will often host government officials, reporters and experts to discuss certain issues. In November, the School of Public and International Affairs hosted Rep. Will Hurd. Taking advantage of these resources will help you get valuable information in an affordable and convenient manner.
- Avoid “Echo Chambers”:
A phenomenon currently being studied by political scientists and mass communications researchers is “echo chambers.” This term refers to the idea that people are making it more difficult to find common ground with people of different political views because they are only seeking out and absorbing information that confirms their established biases. To keep yourself open to different viewpoints and get a complete account of events, follow outlets that will offer differing accounts from each other. For example, if you’re reading the New York Times, find a story in the Wall Street Journal that corresponds with it. Following liberal, moderate and conservative groups will ensure you are better informed on all sides of an issue, and allow you to make informed decisions on who and what to support.