Our View (24-7-2018): Knowing the news

DO you know the name of the Australian opposition leader, or the federal treasurer, or the British Prime Minister?

How about the location of Ned Kelly’s last stand, or which state Broken Hill is in, or when the Melbourne Cup is held?

If you can answer even a few of these questions correctly, you are apparently doing a lot better than journalism hopefuls who interviewed for a job at the Murray Pioneer. The Renmark-based paper’s editor Paul Mitchell shared the quiz, which the Pioneer devised for the interview process, via Twitter last week. He also shared the applicants’ answers — anonymously of course — showing most were completely stumped.

The post has become national news and raised several questions in the process. Are universities struggling to prepare graduates for the real world? Are humans becoming dumbed down in general?

Mr Mitchell stated previous applicants had experienced similar difficulties with the test, so the problem was not new. And, really, it’s not the fault of a university if a person studying to become a journalist has clearly not followed the news they plan to one day report.

Perhaps the results reflect society’s over-reliance on social media. It’s safe to assume most of the graduates who flunked the quiz use Facebook. And that’s fine. But clearly people should not assume keeping up to date with what is happening on social media will mean they are across news and current events. As misinformation spreads across Facebook, Twitter and other such platforms, traditional news media has never been more important.

Thankfully, interviewees for junior positions advertised with the YP Country Times in recent years have impressed. That said, most local high school students have interviewed better than uni grads from out of town. Hopefully as this generation of young people move on with their lives they will value real news and the importance of keeping up to date with what’s happening in the world around them.

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