A Few Questions on the Death of News
The decline of news is a hot topic in these times, and while it’s a valid concern, the part of the discussion that is overlooked is this: How much news is enough news for a community?
There is no formula, other than to compare how many news outlets a community has now versus how many outlets it once had. The fault here is in assuming that the latter number was in some way correct or appropriate in providing the community with adequate news coverage in the first place. Who decided that?
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today news reports focus on losing a printed newspaper as a litmus test on the state of news. But if the news outlet continues to report and publish news online instead of in print, that doesn’t matter. IA burial is still in order. The very simple equation that is in use calls for comparing newspapers to newspapers, not newspapers to news. Again, who decided that?
Taking an issue such as this out of context is easy, especially when the assigned story focuses on the death of news. How about offering a comprehensive look at all of the news sources a community has at its disposal, which might conflict with the assignment at hand — but may also shed light on the right mix of media a community needs today. This would mean mixing apples and oranges, which is something journalism doesn’t do. But maybe it should.
Maybe the reason we’re losing newspapers goes beyond the idea that the business model fell apart and they just can’t pay the bills any longer. Maybe we’re losing newspapers because journalism isn’t a match for what we need today. Case in point: The most revered legacy news outlets developed and expanded political reporting to appease the public appetite for political news. What has that accomplished, other than dividing America to its breaking point? The manmade 24/7 news cycle enabled modern journalism to sideline accuracy for speed. Time and again, surveys show what the public wants is factual news.
If not rooted in fact, is it even journalism?
Maybe, just maybe the decline of news has less to do with outside forces and more to do with what became of journalism. Counting the demise of printed newspapers rings hollow these days — a lonely cry in the darkness — but counting is easier than taking a good hard look at what’s become of an industry, isn’t it?
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