SPU students favor social media as top news source

New poll shows a plurality of SPU voters choosing social media over other sources

Kyle Morrison, News editor

Data visualization by Gabrialla Cockerell

A contentious election season in the middle of a pandemic, during a year of widespread social unrest has led to an eventful news cycle to say the least. Americans have been bombarded with one breaking story after another this year, and with so much going on, news sources have become more and more critical to how people interpret events. 

In a poll of 100 Seattle Pacific University students on campus, 31% said that social media was their primary source of news. Cable news was in second with 12% of the vote, with Apple News, and print media coming in third with 9% of the vote each. Other news sources receiving votes were Google, parents and friends, podcasts such as the Ben Shapiro Show and the Joe Rogan Experience, NPR, NBC, BBC and local news.

Social media’s convenience makes it the most popular choice for SPU students.

“I get my news from Instagram because it’s always the quickest and the most accurate, and most relevant,” First year Sarah Circelli said.

The accuracy of information on social media is a hot button issue right now. Social media companies like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have started to fact check posts to stop the spread of misinformation, especially pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has caused backlash from many social media news commentators and politicians, mostly conservative, who believe that they are being censored under the guise of stopping misinformation. The President of The United States is actively being censored by Twitter for posts claiming that the election is fraudulent due to “disappearing ballots,” which have been deemed misinformation by fact checkers employed by Twitter and Instagram. 

Still, people continue to use Social media as a source to satisfy their own confirmation bias.

“It’s (social media) usually the most accessible and it usually allows me to follow places I agree with,” first year Sarah Day explained.

Cable news was the next most frequented news source by SPU students. Most of these students preferred CNN over Fox News. Students who chose CNN saw it as fact based and relatively neutral.

“I get my news typically from CNN, because I think that news should be fact driven and not really based on opinion, because opinions obviously can skew or reflect differences in the information that’s given,” first year Kara Hiroyasu said.

According to a study done by Ad Fontes Media, all three major cable news stations, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC are considered mostly opinion based. CNN is considered the most reliable out of the three, but still has a “high variation of reliability,” meaning that it portrays exaggerated versions of the facts. 

Students also use Apple News, mostly for its convenience, as the app is automatically installed on all Apple products. Apple News aggregates stories from various other news sources.

“It’s (Apple news) like a mix of different news sources, it’s kinda what’s trending, what people are talking about, kind of the big stories,” said first year Luke Ryan. 

Some SPU students still stand by classic legacy media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Students who read from these outlets trust their reliability and factualness. 

“I look at The New York Times because it’s one of the most trustworthy news sources, because sources like Twitter are very opinion based and from my personal experience, The New York Times and other newspapers are very based on facts,” said  Peter Zheng.

According to the Ad Fontes study, legacy print media such as The New York Times and The Washington Post are considered “fact reporters,” and are considered “neutral.”

The news does not stop, and as more stories break, SPU students will continue to have to decide which news sources they trust to make sense of the world.