Consuming the news as the daughter of two journalists

Gabby Kepnes

The news cycle controls my life. From the time I wake up in the morning to when I go to sleep at night, Joe and Mika on MSNBC and Rachel Maddow are key components of my daily routine. Growing up, it was never a fight for the remote over Disney Channel or Cupcake Wars, but a decision of which network to hear the world news from. My brother and I don’t have a choice. Since my parents both work in the media industry, my mother as a news anchor and my father a special events producer, the news is inescapable in my house.

When I was younger, my parents made endless attempts to weave their careers into my impressionable world. Whenever I had friends over, my mom’s “TV personality” would suddenly appear. She turns everything into an interview, bombarding my friends with questions. “How are you?” “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Do you like to sing?” She carries her natural curiosity home everyday from work.

My dad made journalism a part of his parenting as well. When I had school projects pertaining to any type of production, his realm of expertise, he was always eager to help. I remember for one project for my film class, my dad took me to his office at CNN. He helped me add “TV jargon” like political jokes and social media puns, coached me on delivering the lines, scheduled a teleprompter operator, and recorded the entire segment with the help of a professional cameraman on the very set real CNN anchors used.

On the way to school my parents would make my brother and me listen to the news on the radio. Every so often my mom would turn the volume down and ask us our thoughts on what we were hearing. While I often found these early morning conversations annoying at the time, over the years, I’ve realized how much this discussion about the news has made me a better reader, writer, and listener. During those car rides, I began grappling with hard questions regarding our country, government, and our world, ones that I never thought I would be interested in.

Having two parents in journalism taught me the value of being up-to-date on current events. Each day there’s always something new occurring that can spark engaging conversations in the classrooms and hallways.

I always got a head start on things. Having my mind already coated with the daily news first thing in the morning has turned out to be very helpful. Before I am forced to engage in a conversation about a topic, I am able to come up with my opinion having already considered the arguments on both sides.

More and more recently, however, even the wisps of good news have been shredded by divisive, negative, and often devastating headlines. Since entering high school, I have been further exposed to tragic and horrible events that have made me not want to follow the news at all.

After spending an entire day discussing the Parkland shooting, I wanted to come home and take a break from reality and pretend that everything was fine. But, even though I was exhausted by upsetting news, my parents still refused to let me shy away from being informed. Once they arrived home from work, my parents would continue to follow the latest stories.

Confronting the news, even when you don’t want to, is important. If you’re able to keep up with the craziness this world holds, you will be able to develop an informed opinion, think deeper about current problems and work towards solutions. Following the news widens your perspectives on both political and cultural problems. From there, you can share your perspective with others, creating a more engaged society. Discussing the news is a way that our community can unite during difficult times.

Knowing who our leaders are and what decisions are being made for our country affects everyone. Even the terrifying pieces of news that crash on the world unexpectedly are necessary to know because it reminds us to be conscious of problems in society. Don’t disregard the mass tragedies just because it saddens you.

Even if the news seems overwhelming, it’s necessary to find ways to engage yourself. Whether it be reading the newspaper, participating in a conversation about current events, or flipping the channel to a news station, knowing the news gives you the power to think critically and be an advocate for change.