No News Is Bad News – Part 2

February 20, 2013

It was encouraging to see our blog post, “No News Is Bad News,” receive 49 comments on the Public Relations and Communications Professionals LinkedIn Group site, especially since the comments were pretty perceptive.

While almost all of those who commented agreed with my assessment that most people are no longer interested in news, there was some optimism, too.  General conclusions are that:

  • Hard news is being abandoned for celebrity news and “human interest” fluff.
  • Media have assumed that this is what readers and viewers want, but it may not be true.
  • News reported on the Internet is often inaccurate.
  • Social information is replacing real news.

The comments speak for themselves.  Here are snippets from a few of them:

Clif Caldwell: It seems we have a general trend of not wanting to deal with substantive issues as a nation. From ignoring the news to kicking the can (to the next term) in politics to declining educational standards/achievements and the list of examples is endless. Instead of learning about unpleasant and meaty issues we go for the the coke and twinkies and complain fatty foods leave us obese.

Don Allen: This issue reminds me of the old days when Top 40 radio would be first with the worst - they got the "news" out there fast but their version was usually not very accurate. At least we had a lot of good newspapers to turn to. Today we get this so-called news from social media and not only is it usually erroneous but it generally concerns issues of little importance. 

Vanette Sherrill: The news industry has abandoned itself in favor of the fast and easy and cheap.  It passes off as "news" the celebrity gossip that used to be reserved for tabloids, AP stories that are readily available in every medium, blogs and updates by "citizen journalists" who have no credentials but can "report" community news in which they have a personal interest.

For reasons I don't understand, the news industry has allowed itself to be hoodwinked into believing that this is what everyone wants. An entire population that craves real news is ignored because the industry as a whole, like a flock of sheep, is chasing whatever is "trending". 

Frank Fitzpatrick: Bruce Springstein's song lyric "57 channels and there's nothing on" about sums it up. News is more emphemeral and personality based. I can guarantee that in the UK if Prince Charles falls off his polo pony we will have 8 pages in most popular newspapers covering this news event.

Phil Britt: Fact-checking or even confirmation is a joke ... Now the slightest innuedo or rumor passes as news. Anytime I'm told anyhting, the first thing I do is "consider the source."   But even some trusted sources have gotten lazy about covering the news, either cutting back on staffs so much and relying on copied and pasted material that there is no reason to buy their product or failing to have any oversight of reporters, so sources and articles get made up.

Steve Varnum: What we may be observing is that the public has a broader definition of "news," and that technology has made it possible to gather more of the news that is personal (from family, friends and other stuff they think about daily) than ever before. In a busy daily life, that leaves less time for the news as we have traditionally defined it.

I believe people have always prioritized their news in this way, but in the past had to spend hours visiting or on the telephone to collect it. The popularity of Facebook and other social media, and the parallel decline of traditional news media may be telling us that an effective "personal" news channel will trump NYT and CNN.

Jill McDonald: It scares me to see the extent to which 1) news is becoming "dumbed down" 2) people with loud opinions are considered news reporters, and their opinions facts 3) the civility of public discussion is being compromised by polarized opinions fueled by misinformation. 

Lackey Heward: We're not talking about the news, we're talking about a socio-economic problem that goes beyond, dare I say, even our trillion dollar deficits importance, better yet, the cause of our deficit. We have become a divided people and those hanging on the bottom rungs are simply making their cages more comfortable. Many of us don't care about the news because it only ads to our already overwhelming busy and chaotic lives of running the wheel. Our overly stimulated, rushed, and starving lives cannot handle any additional inertia or we fall even deeper into the chasm of overly medicated depression, anxiety and loss of focus. 

Lee Goldberg: The new society's definition of news is becoming dangerously blurred. Whereas facts and fact-checking were the basis of journalism for traditional media, they have been demoted to the ranks of selective interpretation and reinforcement of existing beliefs and perceptions. In newspapers, for instance, the "editorial pages" consisted of opinions from the newspaper editorial board, so-called "opinion leaders" and political pundits, and a few letters from readers -- each, by the way, carefully selected by the board. Today we have entire networks, websites and blogs that are totally slanted by opinionated writers, most of whom have never undergone formal journalism education.

There were many other fine comments.  It’s good to see that some people still care about news.  If only there were more of them!

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