What Is News?

News

News is entertainment or reports about current events locally, nationally, and internationally. That is correct, but they would be missing the central point of what news is. News is an effective way to spread new information around the world. While viewing the “What is News?” video on Newseum, I realized how important news is from an international perspective. From World War II to September 11th to the death of Osama Bin Laden, news travelled around the world quickly because of radio, television, and the internet.
In the first chapter of Inside Reporting, Tim Harrower writes that every society thinks of new and effective ways to get new information and gossip to the public. He states that in ancient times news was written on clay, and during the height of the Roman Empire slaves wrote newsletters, and as we advanced as a civilization the printing press was invented, and finally, during the 20th century, radio, television, and the internet became the primary source for journalism. The printing press has impacted the news because it provided mass production of newspapers. The radio impacted news in the 1920’s because it was the first time in history that people from all over the nation could hear news stories simultaneously. Television impacted news in the 1950’s because it brought sights and sounds, which engaged the audience in the story more than ever before. The internet, in my opinion, had the biggest impact on journalism because no matter where someone is, they can receive breaking news on their phones or tablets in real time.

The Digital Age

The internet completely changed the way journalism and news stories are written and viewed. Modern news coverage is very different from how it was covered in the 19th century. News in the modern era has become more succinct; usually the content of the article is summarized in the very first line and stories break almost immediately after an event, contrary to 19th century newspapers, which were produced slowly, often printed old stories, and were funded by political parties. While some aspects of news are different today from the 19th century, there are still some similarities. When the penny press first emerged newspapers changed dramatically. Editors were trying to be the first to break big news stories and reporters were covering a wide variety of stories. Also the papers were using advertising to help get funded. James Gordon Bennett brought innovative ideas to journalism such as conducting interviews, letters to the editor, and sports columns. I believe that a lot of today’s news is taken from James Gordon Bennett’s ideas. In today’s age of rapidly advancing technology, which allows for news to break minutes after an event and reach millions of viewers immediately, today’s teens or young people, myself included, would find it difficult to believe that it would sometimes take days or weeks for a news story to be published.

newspapers
Now that we live in a digital era some people believe that newspapers may no longer be able to keep up with the internet. Some say that newspapers are doomed, but I do not believe that all newspapers are doomed. National newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, and the LA Times will not be harmed because they are nationally known, reputable news sources and they are very highly regarded by their viewers. Even statewide newspapers like the Daily News, New York Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer will not be harmed in the digital age because there will always be advertisers that keep them afloat. I do believe that local newspapers will be doomed because they will not have enough money to support themselves and they will no longer be able to compete for viewers with free online news sources. My audio production professor from last semester told the class that his local newspaper only prints once a week because they do not have enough money to keep a staff and print every day. Also thousands of newspapers have become obsolete since the 2008 economic downfall. Even though some newspapers may go out of print their websites will always be around.

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News Literacy

TV-sensationalism

In their haste to break the story first, news companies often neglect or overlook some of the facts. An interesting concept in Megan Fromm’s News Literacy Power Point is about fact checking in the digital age. I agree that people should always fact check now that news companies are vying to be the first to break the news, but they are not always correct with the information that they give. Since the media has been consolidated to just six different companies they could possibly be giving out the wrong information through the numerous media outlets they control. I find to be very important to fact check news because it can go viral so quickly without the information being given to be a hundred percent accurate. We see this all over social media sites where there is breaking news that is incorrect like a fake Associated Press twitter feed is stating that the White House has exploded and the President has been injured.

Check The Facts

There have been numerous times when I have seen news go viral on social media that was not true. For example, there are reports that a celebrity has died which goes viral on Facebook or Twitter and then a few hours later the celebrity states that they are alive and well. This has happened with celebrities like Bill Murray and Oprah Winfrey. I have also seen people post links to The Onion with headlines such as Report: Female Interns Earn Only Three-Fourths Of College Credit That Male Counterparts Do which they actually believe to be true. At first glance, the headline grabs my attention until I realized that the site is The Onion. Most people that I know do not fact check because, like me, they usually believe what the news states. It’s easy to believe what a media outlet like the New York Times or CNN states because we do not believe that they would be biased

Need for Improvement

When it comes to news literacy I need to improve because I sometimes fall prey to false headlines. I am quick to believe a respectable news source, even if they are wrong. In Fromm’s Power Point CNN tweeted that the Supreme Court ruled against the individual mandate of the health care law, but later they made a correction stating that the Supreme Court did in fact rule for the health care law. Most of the time I do fact check because I believe that reputable news sources would get the story correct the first time. Lately though, I’ve been going to multiple news sources to make sure that the stories are true and whether or not each news story has the same facts. I don’t think that I am news literate because I tend to believe a reputable news source without fact checking. What I have learned is that I need to fact check more often from sites such as Snopes.com or Factcheck.org because that could possibly be the only way to truly know what is correct and incorrect in a story. I also learned that many different media outlets are biased and we should not believe them entirely. I should take more responsibility when it comes to making sure the story is correct.
fact-checking