Jul. 26th, 2016

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Back in college, I had a curious desire to be a journalist. I wanted to go out into the unknown and write truthful stories about what I saw. I didn't really consider anything else besides that. I guess it was a good thing I never got into that profession. Like everything else in life, there were deeper considerations to think about that I only realized with time. There are all sorts of politics that go with a job, and I would have hated what I would have gotten into.

It's hard to say that times have changed when I consider what media has become, because I feel like a lot of these changes are cyclical and have already occurred in the past. Certainly, things like the Internet have changed the way media is dealt with, but I think it's actually broken up media into something that's easier to consume.

Twitter, Facebook, snap chat, outlets with can require less than a minute of your time in spurts, but something which you can spend hours obsessively checking throughout the day. I feel like it's a culture of OCD and ADHD. Your news is given to you in snippets, and your attention is won by sensationalist headlines that provoke you in some way. I got burned out on news like this after going through buzzfeed a few years ago. "7 ways your Vagina is like a goddess in spring after sex with your boyfriend" or "Are you a racist? One look at this picture and we can tell!" Clickbait, they call it. I was guilty of clicking articles like these every so often because they're fast and fun to read, but after awhile I just had enough. I can't imagine writing for a world like this.

Of course, the news and media are so much more than that. I'm not saying that's all the news is today. However, I think my ire is more against the culture of how people consume news and how that shapes/reshapes how news is reported.

I started to notice that my family and friends would quote headlines rather than delving deeper into underlying motivations and problems behind a written piece. To some extent, I think that's ok. I don't think everyone has the time, desire, or need to look further. However, it felt like the only way to consume news was through what was given to you on paper. "Donald Trump is racist because we say so!" "Hilary Clinton should be in jail!" These are such definitive statements that aren't typically diligently scrutinized. Yes, they are -responded- to, but it is different from actually looking deeper into it. There needs to be...more? I'm not content with just that.

There's very little follow-up in news media. We don't have enough time to process what we hear before it is on to the next thing. Once something is reported, it's forgotten. Maybe later, on its one year anniversary, we'll see a memorial piece about the event, but there is never ever any on-going report about what is happening. Maybe because in reality, real events require periods of time to develop, but consumer-media culture can't wait that long. It needs more sensationalism, right now. More headlines. More words to fill the emptiness.

I don't have any counter-solutions to this culuture. I feel like this is just another era in an infinite cycle. Maybe one day I'll see things differently, or maybe something will shake things up. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way in the US though, and I think the way this current election year was covered in the news will open the eyes of others. Or maybe I'm the one with my eyes closed, I don't know. It's hard to see beyond the scope of myself. Maybe, just like me, that's the way the news media is as well.


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