Summer Postcards 2013

Up or Down?

The phone rings. It’s Dad.

“How’s your day? Have you heard about this Edward Snowden thing yet?”

I try to keep from groaning, from rolling my eyes back; I exhale to cloak my frustration.

Of course I know about Edward Snowden. I am interning at a major news organization this summer. Snowden is all I have heard about for the past four days.

But in my regular everyday life, I probably would have missed the Snowden story. Though I write for the school newspaper, I don’t often read the news—people will speak up when important things happen. I get my news from word of mouth, from articles recommended and conversations over meals. Human contact is my path to becoming informed.


But this summer my internship requires that I keep up with the news in Washington DC: the city that often makes American news. DC teems with newsmakers--the politicians who decide how to change the country with new policies, and the reporters who tell everyone about it, spread the news.

Being news-savvy in America’s news hotspot demands a new approach. No more secondhand news-gathering from lunchtime chatter with friends. I now need to be the first to know, so I buckle down, tune out, plug in. I look down to my iPhone to get the latest on what’s happening all around me. I can’t be everywhere at once.

Between Twitter and Flipboard, SCOTUS blog, Facebook and the New York Times homepage every now and again, I’m starting to be more on top of worldly events. When my dad calls to inform me about Snowden I get frustrated—I could tell him Snowden facts for days because of my work and my news-following. By all standard accounts, I am informed.

But I’m also trading looking up for news to looking down for news. I’m seeing less of real life in real time to process more news.   New information seeps out of screens, out of lips, and I’m on processing overload.

Where does the news really come from, anyway?


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