A majority of the younger generation does not read the community newspaper. Instead, most of us receive our news from social media.
As a result, teenagers and young adults are missing out on advocacy opportunities, community events, local concerns, and valuable connections that a community newspaper presents.
For instance, 74% of the readers for Woodinville Weekly are over the age of 40, according to 2020 survey results compiled by the paper.
Regardless, data shows that over 150 million people are “informed, educated and entertained by a community newspaper” every week, according to the National Newspaper Association Foundation.
After graduating from high school in June and beginning my internship for the Weekly, I realized that my main sources for news were television and social media.
Instagram and Facebook are the social media platforms I use the most often. On Instagram, I find news through viewing stories and clicking on interesting links. More recently, I have joined Facebook groups like Woodinville Neighbors and NSD (Northshore School District) Community Discussion Group.
“In recent years, less than 20% of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine or newspaper daily for pleasure, while more than 80% say they use social media every day,” according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Through broadcast news and social media, I’ve learned about controversial topics, natural disasters, tragedies, crime, world wars, medical updates and more. While information is shared quickly on these platforms, it can be tough to decipher between truth and fiction.
For example, the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 students and two teachers was widely circulated on social media and broadcast news. Other events like presidential campaigns and debates are also commonly seen in the form of short clips or reels.
Over the course of this internship, I’ve discovered that a community newspaper offers vastly different benefits compared to social media.
The community newspaper provides a way for all people, including younger generations, to have a voice. For example, Woodinville residents can write letters to the editor about their opinions and subjects of importance or submit story ideas to email@example.com.
As the paper's first intern, I also participated in many community events for the first time such as the Celebrate Woodinville Summer Glow Run 5k, Celebrate Woodinville Parade, Basset Bash and Woodinville Skateboard Challenge.
Having lived in Woodinville for 10 years, I had not heard of some of these events.
Additionally, I also discovered many local concerns that I wanted to explore deeper like the low farmers market attendance, student safety despite threats of gun violence, and displacement of businesses caused by the new Eastrail Flats development.
The Woodinville Farmers Market is especially important to me because I’ve grown up working, volunteering, and shopping at it. I’m also familiar with many of the vendors, and I want to continue to support the farms and local businesses.
Furthermore, I was curious about student safety because of the school shooting threats that occurred last year at my high school. Additionally, with all the coverage on the Uvalde shooting, I was concerned about NSD safety regulations as well as the response of local police.
The Eastrail Flats development is interesting to me because one of my favorite stores had to relocate outside of city limits as a result of the project. As a Woodinville resident, I also like to keep up to date on future changes to the city as well as potential impacts.
As I end my internship with the Weekly and get ready for college this fall, I look forward to reading my community newspaper for the various benefits it provides.
I encourage younger generations to start reading their community newspaper and get involved in bringing forward issues of importance to them.