When the students in my Web Journalism class at Notre Dame University in Lebanon fanned out around campus to ask other students what were their information sources when a bout of political violence flared up in the last weeks of May, they discovered that television is still the key medium even for the younger generation of Lebanese.
A 19-year student said she stayed awake to watch television news for the first days when violence broke out in Beirut. Most students reported watching only one channel, although a student majoring in English watched the television news of a political party she disagrees with so she would know what that side was saying.
Partly students turned to television because it is more reliably available than the internet. Also, television was likely to be turned on at home with channels providing updates, so they got the information whether they sought it out or not.
The next most important source was word-of-mouth — generally from parents. Friends and co-workers were also key sources of information. One 21-year-old business major said he supplemented mainstream media such as television news with information provided by his father. Another 23-year-old business major reported that she got most of her information from her parents explaining it to her.
The Internet was the third most used source. Here, students often turned to online news sites, political party websites or a social networking site, Whatsapp, an instant messaging service that sends messages for free.
What news sources barely registered? Twitter. And several students said they didn’t seek out any news. One 20-year-old education major said, “I do not care for the news” because “nothing will change.”