What’s Wrong with the News?

Journal Prompt

Last semester I learned about the history of Journalism since the beginning of the printing press.  Obviously, a lot has changed since then, and the main difference now seems to be that most people read the news online.  I may very well be suffering from Historical Nostalgia- a term I made up to describe how I look back at a time I’ve never experienced and remember it fondly.  I imagine the older days of Journalism as a time when readers took the news seriously and took it in with intellect and skepticism.  However, now people believe everything they read on the internet.  Everything is news, even opinion blogs and even rants on the comment-section of Youtube videos.  It’s ridiculous.  We as a generation currently have the best opportunity to receive the most of the best news, but so much of what we read has no merit.

Why don’t you keep up with the news?

I don’t keep up with the news very often mostly because in my free time, I prefer to read something entertaining, like a Nora Ephron book, rather than something dry.  When something important is happening nationally or internationally, I make sure I know enough facts to contribute to peer-debates.  Still, when many stories out there are so partisan and negative, it is difficult to keep up with the Republican-Democrat back-and-forth.  As a Democrat, even I realize Democrats are just as guilty as Republicans of bending the truth or manipulating people.

What do you wish the news did?

I wish the news reflected reality more accurately.  Watching the news makes the world seem like a constantly dangerous place.  I get the impression that news organizations sometimes take advantage of scare tactics to get viewership or readers.  Every time I turn on the Chicago evening news back home, a majority of stories seem to center around robberies, a train derailing, or the murder-suicide that occurred four blocks from my house.  Obviously bad things happen, and the public needs to know.  The public also needs a necessary reminder that most people aren’t robbers or killers.

What would you do if you ran a news organization?

If I ran a news organization, I would first deliberate what the public needs to know or deserves to know.  Do my neighbors, teachers, and peers need to read about Miley Cyrus “twerking”? Probably not.  Do my fellow classmates need to know the truth about sexual health and safety on a college campus? Should they be keeping up with the Vanderbilt rape case even though it takes place in a different college and a different state?  Yes, definitely.  News should focus on what stories deserve attention, not on people who simply want attention.

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