News… or “news?”

So, in an effort to exemplify what we keep talking about in class in terms of what news in, I would first off like to present these two articles. Both have come out in the last 48 hours. Both are considered “news.”

http://fox5sandiego.com/2013/01/21/small-dog-saves-puppy-from-coyote/

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/01/21/us/politics/obama-inauguration-day.html

 

So. I find that even viewing the titles of the article alone lends one to more more “news,” than the other. Inauguration versus dogs and puppies? Realistically, the answer is obvious. Yet, both have been posted. That said, why are both considered “news?” By today, the story about the dog had made the television news stations. What about it made it news?

Public interest. News, chosen by what people both need and want to know, is arguably almost more driven by what people want to know. People seem to be driven solely by what is comfortable. Those who say, “well I don’t read the paper because there’s too much sad in it,” or, during the election for example, “I’m sick of hearing about politics,” are the reason stories about dogs, puppies, geckos, and zombies, make it into the news. Sadly, most times, main news is not their proper place. If one examines newspapers from the past, they will find far less filler “junk” within their pages. It is a sad reality, but seems to hold. The idea of “news” has changed not based on what people need to know, but what they are willing to read.

No wonder people are so uneducated. Did you know that only 2% of people can discuss the  5th amendment intelligently. Look into the book “What Americans Know About Politics,” by Carpini and Keeter if you’re interested in this.

Oh, and one more blurb… most newspapers and news stations have been covering this as well:

ImageReally, people? Really? Lip-syncing isn’t news… though as a culture, we’re obsessed with looking for the answer. Why aren’t we obsessed day in and out with looking for an answer to the debt crisis? Syria? Iran? Poverty in America AND other countries? Infant death rates? As I said… interest is news, news is interest. The above issues are uncomfortable, so while they make their way into the news, they are surrounded by stories that have, truthfully, little to no merit. That is why the question of what is and isn’t news is so prevalent  and the lines are so blurred. It’s hard to interpret what people will be willing to read.

Makes me glad I’m not making the decisions!

As an extension…

So in continuance of what we discussed in length in class today, why not delve into gun control a little more? The authors of the articles I found did a really great job staying unbiased and factual on what tends to slip into a very controversial issue, and in turn, a political argument.

Here are the two articles I’m using. May as well at least skim those to get an idea of what I’m talking about! You can access both in the political section of The New York Times, as well, if these links won’t cooperate with you.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/us/politics/biden-meets-with-house-democrats-on-gun-violence-proposals.html?ref=politics&_r=0

http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/obama-set-to-announce-plans-to-address-gun-violence/?ref=politics

Let me start by saying, we all have our opinions on Gun Control as a topic. We all have led different lives, grown up with different ideology, and have differing stances. I think this was very apparent in class today. I made my point that my belief is that the issue is not centered on guns, it is centered on our society, and the behavior we’ve allowed as a nation to take place. This is where the issue is. To restate, in my opinion, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” 

It’s like saying a fork makes you fat. No.

Now, to address the journalism aspects of it and get off my soapbox. These articles do an excellent job considering the controversy surrounding the issues at presenting readers, generally, with facts of what is going on within their government. Rather than taking the approach of weighing the merits of the ideology, they have chosen to present the facts as they see them. This is most apparent in the second page of the first article, where the authors spend time giving insight into where both sides are likely to fall, and the complications that will arise for each. This makes the article less about who is “right” or “wrong,” and more about what is actually going on, and how this is likely to play out.

Granted, this is all part of journalism. These articles, for covering such a complex issue, do a good job stripping it to the basics. The assumption, I would guess, is that many are already at least slightly educated on the issue. However, these articles are comprehensive even if one is not. They don’t spend time in the arguments, nor do they spend time with useless writing. They get to the point, and explain, and remain unbiased. 

I would argue they’ve achieved what most journalists strive for. I think this sort of thing should be very, very appreciated in the world of politics considering the impacts it can have on, well, our whole nation. We read. We vote. We even soapbox in blogs. So… it is more than appreciated when journalists stick to their professionalism, and cover the facts, and are as accurate as they can be… with no bias.

 

 

News Is, After All, Change

Generally speaking, there have been excessive amounts of changes and repercussions, both good and bad that have come out of the shift from physical newspapers to electronic news. I find it hard to determine which one is ultimately better or worse, so I want to walk through some of these changes, and examine them in a few different ways.

Firstly, access to information is far more vast than ever before. This makes for a far more educated population, which can only help things in possibly 99.9% of situations. Rosen states in his article the methods of keeping information from the public, namely, not exercising the use of a newspaper. Access to information has led to an increase in a want for education in people, and more knwledge of what is going on in their goverment, their country, and of course in many other areas. There are downfalls to this, obviously, as we watch countries ban the use of internet, not only to keep information about their countries from leaking out, but to keep other information from making its way in. China is a prime example of this, banning the word freedom from their searches according to The New York Times. You can read more about that here, if you’d like: http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/international/countriesandterritories/china/internet_censorship/index.html . Many have more access to news than ever before, but it seems important to note the downfalls of this in the form of censorship.

Despite the new excess amount of accessible information, there are a multitude of downsides. Some of these include the inability to pay for the running of physical papers, leading to job loss, and other economic induced discord within these companies. Newspaper breakdown has been so common as the internet has thrived on such a huge scale, that a website titled Newspaper Death Watch came into being. They also, however claim to watch the “Rebirth of Journalism.” I’ll touch on this later. If you want to check out that site, here’s the link: http://newspaperdeathwatch.com/ . It isn’t a scholarly site, per se, but they’ve been listed as good for journalists, and it’s sort of interesting to dig around, anyway. The fact seems to be, newspapers can either fold and go under, or go digital completely. In 2009, Time’s business and economic department spent some time exploring which ones were most in danger. The scary thing? A lot of them come out of major cities. The city life prompts internet uses versus Mom and Pop enjoying their physical newspaper? Who knows? But doesn’t that open another question? What of those who don’t use electronic sources? How will they get their news if every paper were to suddenly decide to fold. It would never happen, but it is a danger. Here’s the link for the Time article. This one had some pretty interesting stuff: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1883785,00.html . This article by The Business Insider (Dumpala) gives some more specific numbers, such as 105 newspapers closed, and 10,000 jobs lost. There are more numbers worth looking at here: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-death-of-the-american-newspaper-2009-7?op=1. As if the economy wasn’t bad enough… the shift certainly doesn’t seem to be helping, does it?

My last large point I want to make is in regards to the use of language in journalism. There is obviously a certain way one should be writing, as addressed in the Fowler piece. However, there is definitely a different way of writing on the internet. I will first address what I’m thinking, then give a piece that I found by Robert Niles giving his view on the differences. People seem to be lazier in their writing when it is online. This is the bluntest way to put it, truthfully. I find that it doesn’t matter the medium, online writing is simply, often times, not as good as things that are printed. This is not to say everything. Some of the most briliant writers post their writings online. However, I could see rules being slipped and glided over. That said, there are other differences. As the internet begins to take over, there are websites that trump (When did google become a verb?!). Niles believes that journalism students should learn a different style of writing that caters more to the needs of more common online publications (SEO vs. AP in this article.) Here’s the final link for that: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/robert/201004/1843/ . Do these changes mean a decrease in quality? Depends on the change I suppose… but it does seem possible.

So it comes to a weigh out, or some sort of scale. We give up certain things– quality perhaps, jobs for writers (And of course, more writers gives more views to consider, does it not?)… but we also have access to so much more. I’m not sure, in the end, which is better… (perhaps the quantity? I’d rather a typo and know than be uninformed, I think…) quantity, or quality? And perhaps that is one of the biggest question. Perhaps it is not internet versus print, but a quality vs quantity of information battle.