News stories becoming less newsworthy

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Does it ever seem like all you see online are topics about who's going to rehab, who got divorced, who wore what to the latest fashion show, or stories about the "bare-foot bandit"? Why have newspapers (both online and in print) chosen to run more articles on seemingly unimportant topics as opposed to the real issues? Because those are the types of stories that sell.

Based on a recent article Washington Post writer Paul Farhi writing for the American Journalism Review, consumers are more interested in these types of topics than they are ones that thirty years ago would have been considered newsworthy.

Farhi states that if you check out any major news network, you will find a list of top-viewed and most recommended links and videos to watch (CBS, NBC, ABC to name a few). Go to one now and see what you find. Chances are the top hits are not all going to be on the war in Iraq or what the Tea Party is up to, but articles that have headlines that jump out. Novelty is becoming increasingly more important these days.

Does that mean that these topics are any less important than they were in the time of Walter Cronkite and Peter Jennings? Not necessarily, but the people behind the scenes of newspapers have realized that they just aren't going to bring in the money as they once did.

I believe a reason for the switch in headline "stories" is the changing audience. Younger consumers tend to be more aware of what is going on in the world without needing to be reminded of it 24-7. We have access to all these amazing online tools and resources to allow us to get short tidbits of stories without needing to sit down and read a newspaper to do so. For the older generation, however, they still rely on newspapers to get their information (and do they honestly care if Britney has cleaned up her act).

While is is unnerving to think that we care more about people's personal lives than we do real issues, hopefully newspapers and online sources alike can find a way to continue attracting consumers to their products, so that we do not lose anything and everything newsworthy.

We have magazines and tabloids for a reason, and newspapers should not feel that they need to compete with them.


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