In today’s hyper-fast society, it is almost impossible to stay on top of what is going on in the world today. During a typical 30-minute show, the news cycle moves from NFL players kneeling in response to racial injustice, to California wildfires, to yet another uprising in occupied Palestinian territory due to the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The next day, a completely new set of headlines from different corners of the country and the world demand our attention. The constant allegations of “fake news” by our current President (over 150 of his tweets have referred to this phenomenon of news that he does not personally like) only furthers the confusion of most people as to what is really going on around us.
Young people especially have been disconnecting from the traditional news outlets due to the perplexity and complexity of trying to stay on top of current events. A recent report by the Pew Research Center found that 50% of people aged 18-29 get their news online while only 27% get their news from TV sources. Additionally, 62% of all Americans use their social media accounts as a news source. This fundamental change in how we learn about the world around us certainly comes with advantages, but there are also several potential setbacks. The proliferation of social media news sources allows for a greater number of voices to express their opinions, but at the same time, it allows people to extend blatantly false and/or biased news headlines around the internet.
In response to these challenges, one Emmy nominated local reporter based out of Los Angeles, has taken it on herself to create a bilingual news program that breaks down the main headlines into 90 second segments that can be easily digested and understood by younger generations. Stephanie Martinez is the creator of “News Quickies”, and has joined us to explain her vision as to why she created this innovative news program. You can find her weekly “News Quickies” on Facebook.
What was your original impulse for creating the “News Quickies” show?
I migrated from Colombia at age 16 and I’ve been working in the news industry for seven years. As a bilingual reporter, I’ve had to switch from reporting in English to Spanish and vice versa many times. That constant switching has made it difficult at times to digest the news. Being bilingual is a blessing but speaking “Spanglish” has made it harder to process complicated topics. At first, I saw my bicultural background as a nuisance. I forget words, I speak fast, stumble at times, I have an accent but little by little, I’ve learned to see it as the blessing that it is. I was inspired to help people understand that topics like politics, law, and the economy can be easy to grasp. On the other hand, we reporters also need to find the right way to communicate to our audience. In March of this year, I decided to create News Quickies as a new way to tell the news and, at the same time, embrace who I am: a millennial and an immigrant.
Why do you think that it so hard for people to stay on top of the news with all that is going on in the world?
The way news is being consumed has changed drastically. Millennials are very particular in their ways and they seem to be less receptive to the traditional news outlets. Technology has completely changed the rules of the game. We are also living in unprecedented times in terms of politics. Things are crazy! I think we often don’t know how to process what is happening or fully understand the laws. I’ve caught myself thinking “can he actually do that?” more times than ever before.
A lot has been said in the last year about the phenomenon of “fake news.” Do you think that this contributes to people's general confusion about what is going in the world?
Absolutely. There are several things to this point. First, there is a distinction between network news and local news. They are all here to serve their audience but local news reporters are on the ground, talking to families, the community and investigating first hand. Unfortunately, every journalist has been placed in the same pile and people don’t understand many things about this industry. The “fake news” phenomenon is not only adding to the confusion but also debilitating a community that exists to serve the people, the press corps. This is truly doing an incredible disservice to democracy. I’m from Colombia and I’ve seen what press censorship can do and trust me, we don’t want that here.
How do you go about choosing what news features to include in a 90 second news brief?
Since I’m a one-person team, I can only cover headlines. The research, writing, translation, recording, and editing all take time. However, I’m hoping to not only expand to other topics but also bring on board a few other reporters with different styles and personalities.
What type of feedback have you gotten from your followers regarding the News Quickies?
The feedback and engagement has been incredible. It’s great to be able to connect and incite the curiosity of people who really don’t engage or care much about the news. I get a lot of requests of topics and many encouraging messages of people saying how much they needed something like News Quickies.
Why do you think it is important for people to stay on top of the current events in the world today?
Every single decision that happens in politics affects you. Many incidents that happen internationally, indirectly affect us as well.
What are the potential consequences of having a large segment of the population essentially misinformed about what is going around in the world around them?
The potential consequences would be devastating. Young people will be our next leaders and I sure don’t want a misinformed person to be my representative, doctor, teacher or president.
Do you think that the “lighter tone” that defines many of your News Quickies is a good way to make the news more “digestible” for the general audience?
News Quickies are primarily targeted to millennials, but in reality, anyone can benefit from its lighter and conversational tone. Sometimes I do make expressions that might give the impression that I’m taking sides. I don’t do this to actually show a side but to show who I am as a person. I always try to be transparent and that’s just my personality. However, I’m still a reporter so I always try to tell both sides of the story.
As a person who has migrated to the United States from Latin America, what is your perception on how migrants understand the news and current events in the United States?
I think that as immigrants we have so much to lose that we tend to be well aware of what’s happening in the news. Additionally, different organizations and activists have done a great job at educating the immigrant communities.