Extra! Extra! Read all About it, Updates Every Five Minutes!

Gone are the days when the news was the only available channel on television. Even further back in history, the days when only the rich could afford newspapers is a barely plausible thought. Now, as soon as you buy a computer and get the internet sorted out, the homepage is automatically set to a website sharing the latest trending articles. The internet is filled with news and gossip, and the updates are everywhere, from the stationary computer to the mobile device.

Despite all the options, I have noticed a reoccurring scenario. Rather than giving the public a single one information filled and complete article, it seems that today the goal is not to give the public everything in one place. I have noticed this when I was trying to keep updated on the Boston Marathon tragedy. I found that I would read an article and finish it with just as many questions as I has when I began reading. It’s as though they write these articles will an invisible, “stay tuned for the rest of the information you were looking for,” phrase at the end. It’s a ploy to ensure that a reader will come back for more, giving them more hits, and increasing the possibility of the reader to scavenge through the website. In the end, the reader goes through several incomplete articles waiting for the moment when it feels the news has truly been delivered.

The problem is that people have begun expecting the same immediacy from online news sources as they get from live broadcast. Therefore, the necessity of releasing an article trumps the responsibilities of researching, taking the time to gather information, and writing a complete story. The articles are getting shorter and shorter as they recount the previous article and then add the latest piece of information to update the reader. Unfortunately, with the trend of writing status updates and “tweets,” people are becoming more accepting of reading shorter articles. In fact, I am fearful to say that I believe it’s becoming the preferred method. Online news sources are basically spitting out news updates in the same way people sit at their computer and tell the world what they’re doing every hour.

“I just finished breakfast, yummy!”

“Airplane crash occurred in … there are survivors… injuries… various reasons for the crash… more information to come.”

One of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve noticed while trying to stay informed about disasters was the fact that videos and photographs were pouring in to the news media. People can’t deny that they want to see what they’re reading about. With the combination of photographs, mediocre video submissions from witnesses, and the broadcast video, I can watch a disaster from multiple viewpoints. What does this mean? It means someone was standing there more concerned about feeding the public’s spoiled sense of curiosity rather than lending a hand to the people in need.

This desire to fulfill constant updates is one of the reasons people are not truly involved in their communities. We sit at home waiting for the latest update. Immediacy was useful in cases of creating awareness and reaching out for help in natural disasters. However, how can people become involved in their community if no one learns about anything until the news wants to provide live coverage? I believe people will be more involved and concerned about their communities if reporters would take the time to say, what’s happening next? A story on an upcoming festival and the impact it has had on the community in the past will bring more people out of their homes rather than watching the festival as it is broadcasted.

Unfortunately, nothing can change as long as our sources of news are preoccupied with websites hits and profits. We need fewer stories on the airplane crash itself and more stories on the safety of flying, the latest advancements tagging along with the respectable story of the current news. If reporters took the time to provide background information, the stories will matter more to the readers world-wide. The story will be more than someone saying, did you hear about the plane crash? It will offer the topic to discuss with others as well as the information to educate the community. The internet browsers, the smartphones attached to our hips have created a spoiled audience out of us all. People expect the quick, short and to the point updates. If the news media were to begin making us wait, and providing a worthwhile article, it will slowly but surely bring the community outside of the digital world and back into the interest of community happenings as it should be.

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