Has journalism become an art of producing popular nonsense?
23rd May 2014
Ella Henderson is set to release an album, whilst a pet dog gets an invite to vote in the European Parliament elections … these were just two ridiculous headlines I came across in the news in the past few weeks.
Ella Henderson – a singer signed to a record label, and well-known for her stint on X Factor – releasing an album; shock, horror!
I doubt either of the above are classed as credible news to most of the UK population, let alone are justifiable as being a top news headline on BBC’s Radio 1 prime-time breakfast show.
This brings me swiftly on to my issue of the moment: Journalists producing garbage as long as it’s popular.
This bold statement may ruffle a few feathers, but it holds a lot of truth nonetheless.
In this fast-paced, tabloid-style, celebrity-obsessed environment that we live in today, news that is popular tends to lack substance. But – and this is key – it sells, it’s shared, it’s tweeted, it’s pinned and it’s blogged about, therefore it is newsworthy, isn’t it?
Why the switch on the news agenda?
Now the reason for this switch on the news agenda could be debated all day long. One justification is that it’s what the audience wants to read and to make a profit the media has to feed people what they crave. But has the media conditioned us to believe that superficial news is mainly what we are interested in?
One point to highlight, before I get a barrage of angry journos crashing down my door, is, of course not every writer slots into this stereotype and there are many publications still holding onto their “real” news reputations. Furthermore, the journalists who do write this stuff may have limited power over what is printed.
And, further still (before I jump off my high horse) what even constitutes as credible content these days?
When fun content overshadows “real” news
Now, I admit being guilty of clicking on that viral article circulating the web, titled: “My Instagram selfie hell”; or sharing that “10 celebs you think are dead but actually aren’t” article – and I’m sure many of you reading this have done similar.
The problem comes when this content begins to overshadow real, environmental, economic, political, financial, life-changing news that is occurring every day to people all over the globe.
I thought the internet and its capabilities were meant to widen our knowledge of the issues happening in far-flung destinations that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Or even help to reach a larger more varied audience demographic about things going on in neighbouring towns. Instead we get updates on the many reasons Miley Cyrus sticks her tongue out in pictures.
For instance, the announcement that David Moyes had been sacked as the manager from global brand, Manchester United football team, flooded all media outlets over a three-day period.
Yes, it was news, but was it really worth the amount of media attention it received? Probably (and most certainly) not! But that did not stop the story dominating every news bulletin I heard.
Don’t get me wrong, like I said earlier, I love a bit of light-hearted easy reading as much as the next person, but we need a balance. News should be, and more importantly, needs to be varied, factual and credible.
Here are some of the most ridiculous (but funny) headlines I came across while browsing the internet: