Internet news media is undeniably growing at a rapid pace. For this reason, I’m not surprised that this year’s “State of the News Media” report, by the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, told of the decline of the newspaper.
What I am surprised about is that newspaper websites like the Huffington Post aren’t our main source for news. Facebook has become the bulletin board of news stories, and getting information through status updates on Facebook has become the unfortunate norm.
I believe the move of news reporting to the Internet is to be expected eventually, just as the move of news reporting to television was expected. However, the system now in place blends news with the pool of fictions that the Internet has become.
The hard truth is we no longer look for news where news is supposed to be. I no longer see news stories in the objective environment that they used to be found in. Newspapers, like the Marlin Chronicle, have sections with expectations. Television networks have news shows with organized time slots and even all-news channels. But Internet news?
The Internet has web-like hyperlinks, which rely on the user to take the initiative of searching or clicking.
The “front page” doesn’t exist on the Internet since the front page is always Google or Facebook or Twitter. The age-old newspaper formula—prioritizing the front page, then the sections, then the articles—has changed into prioritizing the articles, then maybe the other articles that happen to be on the side labeled “Top News Stories,” then maybe the sections—if people even care, now, what section the story was written for.
In all honesty, I don’t think that this Internet formula is too bad of a thing. With the Internet, people who wouldn’t normally turn on the television or pick up a paper, now are able to view news stories effortlessly and sometimes even unwillingly with all the posts and links that pop up. However, there are large drawbacks to this formula, one of them being the attention game.
Why do silly viral videos seem to be so popular? They gain attention, and attention is prized within the world of the Internet, whether it is gained because of a strange photoshopped picture of a cat’s head on a human’s body, or a video parody on trailers or other entertainment. A satirical “news” website called The Onion is an example of how silly can get out of hand. The Onion is a website that parodies news stories, such as old magazines that told of alien landings and Britney Spears’s clone come to destroy us all. However, some misinformed people believe that these stories are real and post them on Facebook or other places in order to get reactions.
The goal of Facebook, of course, is allow people to socialize and discuss things in a forum with people they know—and to get reactions.
The Internet is a confusing environment where news can easily mix with fiction. People have to become active and critical in their thinking about things that they find on the Internet. However, that is too much to ask of everyone.
I don’t think being unconsciously informed by Facebook is very healthy in the long run, although the idea is marked with good intentions. People should stop relying on Facebook for news, just as people shouldn’t rely on Wikipedia for biographies.
It should be common sense not to idolize a single source anyway; people that only listen to what they want to hear become too sensitive to criticism of their own opinions. I believe that is the problem nowadays. News on the Internet is great for many people, but the Facebook “wall” does nothing but create a crutch for them to rely on.
Let’s hope that the news media can find a way to separate themselves from the entertainment media of the Internet.