You snooze you news

I’ve had an ongoing problem regarding the news. Well, not necessarily the news itself, but what is presented as news. I understand that people dying in a coal mine is news. That is something people care to learn about, and hopefully something that can impact safety standards, help young people deciding what careers to pursue, inform people of the impact their electricity use has on other people as well as the environment, etc. I’ll grant that this being presented as newsworthy is an admirable task for our media market.

However, the news outlets are also increasingly clogged with what I consider non-news. This includes scandalous and over-hyped incidents that usually affect a very small number of people (who are more often than not famous in some other way). I don’t consider incidents like this to be news. It may be information that our culture thirsts for. In fact I’m quite sure it is, as I see it spread, from our local news, to the nationwide outlets, and increasingly to the online sources as well. In a perfect world I would relegate these juicy facts to a special TV show, or a separate page on news websites. I don’t really expect the infiltration to stop, but I’d like to quarantine it some way (which I realize is a purely selfish goal).

My larger worry is that as the mass media companies gravitate toward the hype, they will stop paying attention to larger issues and “real news”. I like to think that the media in general plays a very important role in our society, and as much as they already struggle with it, I would hate for them to hamper themselves in any greater way.

I think that the Internet is definitely filling a void in the current news world. There are news organizations that are exclusive to the Internet, but the Internet also gives a platform for existing media companies to present more or different information in a very cheap and easy way. I think that where the rubber really meets the road is where the massive amount of news information on the Internet is presented in an aggregate manner. Here are some of my favorite examples of these sites/tools.

Mass-media on the Internet:

  • NPR In my opinion they’re one of the best at combining TV and Internet content

Internet-only:

  • Salon Okay perhaps they aren’t the best for breaking news, but I like some of their in-depth work
  • Truthdig Unabashedly left of the aisle, but interesting nonetheless

News aggregators:

  • Newsmap I visit this site almost daily. You’ll really need to maximize the browser window to get the full effect
  • Rootly This site isn’t perfect, but it lets you indicate your preferences for news topics and has a nice layout

Any other ideas or recommendations?

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~ by nhak on August 7, 2007.

7 Responses to “You snooze you news”

  1. I’m ashamed to say it, but all of my non tech-related news comes from CNN.com. Despite a recent overhaul of the look of the site (which I think is spiffy), the quality of stories covered has taken a nosedive. I don’t know if I can attribute this to CNN or a public that demands to know Paris Hilton’s whereabouts at all times. Maybe they’re both to blame?

    She’s in church right now, by the way. JUST KIDDING!

  2. i agree, the mainstream media is certainly chock full of unimportant rants. when it’s not the “war”, it’s something retarded as mentioned by willtuck. but then there’s the occasional disaster story such as the utah coal mine incident, and minnesota bridge collapse. both of which i would pay close attention to and actually care to know more about.

    as for where i find my mainstream news, lately i’ve been going to google news since they have such a wide span of all the other news outlets. i suppose they [google] don’t really count as a direct resource, per se, but a search engine in general provides a gateway to other news websites.

  3. I’m a fan of NPR, but CNN is also a source I use regularly. For fun I’ll browse the Politics tab on Fark, but they mostly link to commentary, which is about 80% of news nowadays. Still finding quality news is a chore really. Believe it or not I do enjoy the writing of the Christian Science Monitor and mostly they stray away from celebrity culture. Their foreign correspondents are some of the best in the business.

  4. Willtuck, I also enjoy the most recent update to CNN at least from a visual standpoint. I’m sure some people enjoy them adding more active content like surveys and news videos. Unfortunately they tend to use these newer devices for fluff stories or other junk.

    Zooloo, I hear the shout for Google news. In doing a bit more digging, the Newsmap site I mentioned actually pulls its content from the Google news aggregator.

    Wiwillie, I agree about CSM. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with their news and presentation. I do hit that site occasionally as well.

  5. Sadly, the Christian Science Monitor’s original mandate, “To bring you the latest in Christianometry (the scientific study of Christians) from across the globe!” has fallen by the wayside. As such, I’ve stopped reading it.

  6. I hate to say it, but MSNBC is my regular choice for “mainstream” media – they’re pretty much like CNN, but with a (very) slightly lower BS factor – although it’s headed the same direction. Virtually all “mainstream” news now comes from AP and Reuters. The mainstream venues are nothing more than middle man channels for these sources, and do almost no reporting of their own.

    Every once in awhile, I like to check out Indymedia. They certainly aren’t mainstream and they get crazy some times, and their stories are all 100% depressing, but there is often foreign stories that never get spoken of in U.S. news.

    That Newsmap page is going to become a favorite. That is very cool.

    And are you guys serious about Christian Science Monitor (I know willtuck ain’t)? I’ve always dismissed a newspaper put out by a church, especially one I disagree with as much as the Christian Scientists.

  7. I can’t speak for Nhak, but I’m serious. Read the international section sometime. Except for the editorials it’s quite good.

    I was wary of picking it up myself, because of it’s religious ties, but was pleasantly surprised. I can see dismissing it, but is visitng a website run by a church worse than outright buying a product run by some envoirnmentally criminal corporation?

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