Over the course of the pandemic, The News-Letter transitioned from a weekly, print publication to a daily, online-only production. As shocking as it was for us to see the Gatehouse sit empty for nearly a year, the digital transformation of our production process matched current trends of news consumption — as of 2020, 86% of Americans reported that they accessed news from their smartphones.
However, access to news is not the only thing made easier with smartphones. Online spaces are also extremely conducive to the spread of false information, whether intended to cause harm (disinformation) or not (misinformation). Most commonly, it is referred to as simply “fake news.” Despite the fact that this problem has made it into our everyday lingo, studies have shown that Americans overestimate their own ability to identify false information from true information in news studies. Furthermore, interaction with websites promoting articles with false information has increased in past years.
Reading, believing and spreading false information is harmful to all involved. False information about COVID-19 vaccines, for instance, can dissuade someone from making the best decision for their health and those around them. Headlines including false claims can spur acts of racism or hate.
The internet is full of information, true and false. Our mission at The News-Letter is to make sure that people looking for information have access to credible reporting on the issues impacting students at Hopkins. As an independent, student-run paper, we generate our own revenue. This allows us to examine how the University functions from an outside perspective, publishing the perspectives not only of University officials but also of the students and community members who interact with the University every day.
College papers are in the unique position to bridge the gap between the student bodies they represent and the populations of the communities they inhabit. Here in Baltimore where the “Hopkins bubble” is very real, The News-Letter attempts to put students and community members in conversation with one another, bringing campus news to the communities where students are living and bringing city news to students who are now a part of Baltimore’s vibrant population.
Though we believe strongly in our mission, it is only effective when people are actively engaging with the stories we publish. For this reason, The News-Letter is excited to announce its partnership with Spotlight News. Founded by a Hopkins alum, Spotlight is a “Netflix for news” service which provides subscribers access to hundreds of publications through a single login. Not only can subscribers read The News-Letter, but they will also be able to access typically paywalled publications such as The Baltimore Sun and Bloomberg News.
As a Hopkins student, you will have free access to Spotlight and all of the publications it partners with. That’s right: thousands of stories typically guarded by paywall at your fingertips for FREE.
By downloading Spotlight, you’ll also be supporting The News-Letter financially. Spotlight shares revenue with newspapers on the app, which could help ensure we can remain a fully independent student-run paper for decades to come.
As you settle into Baltimore and begin finding your place at Hopkins, make sure to download the Spotlight app and log in using your University email address. There is truly no better way to learn about the community you’re now a part of than to engage with the dependable reporting of your fellow Blue Jays at The News-Letter.