Making News – In the Age of the Internet
The news is often blamed for many of our problems. For example, if you read the news, you can almost always find some new disease or death, crime, or other outrage. In this day and age of information and instant gratification, news can sometimes become a double-edged sword. It can be used to tell the public what is going on while at the same time it can be used as an excuse for not doing something, or to simply misinform people to avoid them. As an example, if there was an explosion in New York City a few days ago, you would probably hear about it in the news, and see pictures of devastated buildings, and other disasters that people could blame on the explosion.
News today is all about the entertainment value, or news value, of the piece rather than the news itself. Some examples of news that doesn’t have much of a news value are things like celebrity gossip, celebrity romances, reality shows, reality television shows, and so on. These things get very little attention by the mass media because they are just for entertainment value. However, they are also very entertaining to viewers. So news reporting is basically no different than entertainment reporting, except that news reporting is much more informative. For example, if you were told that a busloads of elementary school students from a nearby town were taking a field trip to Disney, while several adults apparently had to miss their earlier trip due to poor weather, you would likely hear about the event through the grapevine, since it was reported by several news sources, including the local television station, several newspapers, and even on a couple of web sites.
But if you were to listen to a local news reporter, you would likely think that the event was quite unusual, given the number of kids in attendance, the weather, and other factors. This kind of thing is called “making news” and often a journalist will try to make a story about unusual circumstances or events in order to make a big splash in the local or national news, which will then drive a lot of advertising revenue into the journalist’s wallet. This has been going on for years, but it is getting more attention lately, as the Internet and new multimedia tools are making it easier for anyone to make news on anything.