In a world where Kanye West can gain more support on “GoFundMe” than a wounded war vet.
In a world where news outlets are constantly searching for the next entertaining story…
Who will step forward to save the integrity of hard-hitting news?
There are several news outlets available to fulfill the needs of a variety of news-worthy topics. However, in a society that holds BuzzFeed to a higher standard than the New York Times, are we truly given access to the hard-hitting topics that once covered our headlines?
ICYMI: Hard-hitting news or “hard news” is news that covers important, sometimes controversial content. The opposite of that, being “soft news” which is less-crucial news, often covering entertaining content or stories that make you feel good.
Today, outlets resort to more of a “soft news” approach.. This shift in news coverage can be partially blamed on the news sources, but can more accurately be blamed on readership demand.
As an audience, news readers develop their own ideas of what is considered “news-worthy.” Using feedback and surveys, news outlets are able to detect the types of news their readers are most interested in.
I enjoy celebrity entertainment and feature articles just as much as- maybe even more than- the next person. However, as a journalist who has spent more than a year in the sports department, I realize there isn’t much hard-hitting information in the realm of soft news. That isn’t to discredit the worthiness of such news, but to point out the importance of a balance. A balance which is currently at risk.
If this continues, we may be facing a society where the only news we’re given is the news we want to hear.
You may be asking, “Why should I care?”
Let’s take a trip to the future. Check out these five headlines from your local paper.
1. We have no idea what’s happening
Soft news is important and useful, but it should always be noted that there is more going on than the “fluff” we enjoy reading. There are always going to be real stories about real tragedies. Hard news will never disappear. Hard news coverage, however, could. These stories keep us informed and, for lack of a better word, humble. Hiding hard-hitting news stories in the background doesn’t mean they’re not happening, it just means we aren’t seeing them.
For society to be informed about the things they are facing (natural disasters, serial killers, H1N1 outbreaks) someone has to do the informing. If we are showing our news platforms that we have no interest in these things, eventually they might lose interest in telling us about them. There are some surprises we would prefer not to stumble on by accident.
2. Lauren Conrad, Laguna Beach alumna, takes political office
This is actually something I might be completely on-board with. But, for argument’s sake, let’s think about what I really mean. Political awareness is important. The public should be well-informed to make the best decision for the candidates we accept as worthy. News can help with that.
In a civilization more concerned about popular influence than the real issues, reality television stars, celebrities, and musicians will be the only considerable choices for political office. Based on a persona created by these celebrities, we would build platforms for them to squeeze their way into our government.
3. Kitten yawns, breaks Internet
As our search for interesting content lessens, we will begin to accept almost anything as news-worthy. Don’t get me wrong, I can binge-watch cat videos with the best of them. I do, however, think there is a fine line between internet time-fillers and actual news.
If readers are deciding what news they’re provided with, perhaps they should consider what is actually worth their time. Breaking down the barriers between serious journalism and “fluff” is a slippery slope.
4. Taylor Swift trips, caught by possible husband
With the integrity and value of news dropping, it’s only a matter of time before once-credible news sources result to the tabloid writing we see today. Front page stories will become fan-fiction articles. Newspapers will use full-page collages to show Taylor Swift in the super market with a rumored boyfriend.
5. Teen news editor fires staff
As the news changes, so will the people who write it. Many reporters will seek jobs that are more challenging than performing a Google search. With open jobs, and little worry about journalistic integrity, getting a news job will be easy.
Bylines will be given to whoever agrees to summarize the latest Kanye West Twitter feud.
The world we live in is sometimes a dark place, but in that darkness there is always a little light. We can’t focus on the darkness alone, and focusing on only the light will surely blind us. We have to see the whole picture in order to recognize our reality.
To keep the whole picture intact, we must accept the “hard news” as well as the “soft news.” Read your entertainment stories, but keep up-to-date on the issues. Take in some real-life news. It might save us all.