Why Reading the News is Crucial

Here is a point frequently made to me by employers: today’s students don’t know much about the world around them, they don’t read the news, they can’t connect the dots.

Is this you?

When I ask students on campus about this observation, many agree. They find the news boring or disturbing, they don’t have time (but I’m guessing they have time for Facebook), they don’t like politics, they don’t see the connections to their life, and so on.

The most lofty goal for staying abreast of world events is to become an informed citizen in a democratic society. When you go to vote and you know little about the underlying economic and socio-political forces driving current events, on what basis do you decide?

A more down to earth, but interrelated, reason is that many employers–from government agencies to business–require their hirees to be informed about current events. It’s not enough to speak a foreign language, to live abroad or to scan Yahoo headlines; to impress top-shelf employers, you need to be able to demonstrate global awareness and to develop a well-reasoned analysis of issues that matter in the real world. The best way to get started is to regularly consult major newspapers and weeklies (NYT, Wash Post, LA Times, Newsweek, New Republic). At a recent conference on higher education, business people and educators pointed to The Economist as an ideal source of weekly analysis. It’s an intelligent, brief and extremely well-written magazine with academic discounts for students. I quote from a CEO of an international company: “If students would just read the Economist every week they’d be ahead of the game.”

Even better for BYU students: if you know a foreign language, use your competitive advantage and read major papers and political magazines from your language area.

If you’re not reading the news, start today.

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