The News

The News is a product of media. Before there were newspapers and radios and televisions and blogs and Substacks, did anyone seek out The News as the commodity we think of when we say “The News?”

It seems like we get what we go looking for when we look for The News. We get outrage and conspiracy or we get dispassionate analysis. I used to think the latter was The News while the former was something else, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. Now I think The News is whatever we want it to be; “mainstream media” and “right-wing media” feel more and more like meaningless terms to describe variations on the same thing: The News.

Television seems to have made The News into something particularly harmful, and I’m thinking more of cable news than your local broadcast station (Sinclair Media, I know). Once companies started programming for round-the-clock content, The News became a commodity that had to be produced constantly, without stop. And once those companies were joined by other companies, The News became a fierce competition for eyeballs and attention requiring screaming analysts and ubiquitous red chirons for “Breaking News.” It’s useful in a rapidly unfolding crisis, perhaps, but as a source for meaningful insight into what you’re going to do today or tomorrow, it’s a major distraction.

What if you dropped cable news from your diet? Would things happen without you knowing, or would your phone make sure you knew anyway?

2 thoughts on “The News

  1. Thanks, Rocky. I once worked at a wire service which was owned by the two major papers (and each thought the other ought to pay for it). I copyedited news releases, keeping grammar and style straight for agencies and associations who sent us what they thought was news. I enjoyed having the radio news on the weekend and noticing when they got finished with what was really “new” and fished into the piles of releases from the week. Sometimes on Saturday afternoon, I would hear a nice little item I remembered working on back on Monday morning. Still a good story, they just needed time for it.

    Or when the reporters weren’t gathering any news, the city editor would direct that people should start looking for the anniversary stories, the “on this date in history” items (which always seemed to get room on Nov. 22). The stories were news again because it was the anniversary, bigger news on the 5th, 10th, 15th, etc.

    So for storytellers, if it isn’t new, it’s that old time again!

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