What Constitutes News?

I have quit watching the national and local news shows.  And I don’t take the local newspapers.  They are just not that informative any more.  They assume I have a 2-minute attention span, the IQ of a 5th grader, and are hooked on celebrity news.  Sometimes it difficult to tell the difference between the national nightly news and Entertainment Tonight (ET). 

The national news likes big disasters because they are photogenic, and the local news likes fires, shooting, etc. for the same reasons.  Interviewing people in pathetic situations is the latter’s staple.  Both love to give unneeded publicity to people on the fringes who commit violent acts.  This publicity encourages future violent malcontents and people with mental issues; it gives them their 15 minutes of fame.  In some respects, the news is partially responsible for many of the personal tragedies out there because of the publicity that they provide the instigator(s).

Recently I’ve heard about three Internet efforts that have the capacity to change the news business significantly.  One is a local effort called “Salt TV”.  According to Vince Horiuchi of the SLTrib:  “The new independent local news cooperative, launched in beta version this last week (mid-July 2010), is expected to be fully functional next month.”  It involves an unimpressive list of old news warhorses.

“Salt TV” promises more indepth reporting and a return to old-style journalism.  While I applaud the effort, I wish they had a better list of participants.  I just don’t see Terry Wood providing a hard-hitting, indepth story, but I hope he suprises me.  The individuals they have signed up are big local names, but none are really noted for their reporting skills.  But even if they only highlight a more positive side of the news, I will be happy; I certainly look forward to seeing stories by Kimberly Perkins.  There has to be more to the news that just drive-by shootings.

The second effort is international and involves using the Internet for the publication of allegedly classified information.  This effort seems particularly noteworthy because it provides more transparency on issues that are potentially important to the public.  (Too much embarrassing information is hinden under an alleged need for secrecy. )  The website–wikileaks.org–has recently received a great deal of international publicity for its release of classified US documents concerning the war in Afghanistan.  (This release has been compared to Daniel Elsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers.)  Wikileaks has also received some local publicity by publishing parts of the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions (1999).

Accordint to Wikipedia, “Wikileaks is an international organization, based in Sweden, that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensative documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of their sources.  Its website, launched in 2006, is run by The Sunshine Press.”  The website has received a number of newsmedia awards for its reports.

The third involves the reporting of micro-local news on the Internet.  As news agencies keep cutting back on staff, journalists, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens have responded by creating websites to cover the local news they feel is underreported.  Hyperlocal has become a familiar buzzword.  The idea is to get residents involved in the reporting local news.

Sensing the potential of niche news, the Knight Foundation, has given out roughly $20M in grants since 2006 to help nuture promising sites.  Most hyperlocal sites don’t have the budget for flashy graphics or searchable databases.  Their content comes from local gadflies who care about both large and small goings-on around town.  Some traditional news organizations have even begun partnering with hyperlocal sites and helping train their contributors.

This entry was posted in @n@rchy, Technology, Television, Vocabulary. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What Constitutes News?

  1. Roger Hansen says:

    I had graduated from university, lost the Viet-Nam-era draft lottery, and run out of deferrals. My wife and I decided to spend some time in Europe before our lives changed dramatically.

    We drove from Provo UT to Washington DC. There we spent a couple of days with my uncle and aunt before leaving for Europe; my uncle was an analyst for the Defense Department. My relatives were very gratious hosts and showed us around much of DC. During one of our conversations, my uncle mentioned that the Pentagon was playing fast and war information and statistics, and that some day he would like to write about it and expose the fraud. (This was pre-Daniel Elsberg and the Pentagon Papers.) I didn’t really understand what he was talking about, but said that as a history major, I would be glad to help. We left our car at his house.

    After returning from Europe, we stopped at my uncle’s place to pickup our car. He had quit his job and had returned to Utah. I never talked to by uncle about Viet Nam again. In fact, I don’t remember ever having a serious conversation with him again. He died years ago.

  2. Marc Sharp says:

    Those Afghan informants outed by Wikileaks most likely haven’t any clue this has happened. Most likely sitting in some shit village 100’s of miles form TV or news. Meanwhile a Taliban hit squad is on their method there to chop the heads off of everyone in the family.

  3. Roger Hansen says:

    According to Eben Harrell writing in Time magazine (9 Aug 2010):

    Julian Assange of WikiLeaks.org is “a tall, wan, white-haired former computer hacker” who is also soft-spoken.

    “Nothing gives Assange more pleasure than embarrassing the powerful: he founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as a sort of dead drop for whistle-blowers to anonymously post confidential material.”

    “”I am a journalist, a publisher and an inventor,” Assange says. “I have tried to invent a system that solves the problem of censorship of the press and the censorship of the whistle-blower across the whole world.”

    That is a big claim, but like they say, it ain’t bragging if you can do it.”

    “Assange, an Australian, 39, who studied physics at the University of Melbourne as an adult student, moves between four bases–which he does not specify, citing security concerns. Assange’s story is unique to the Internet age. His early career was as a hacker, using the handle Mendax, from the Latin “splendide mendax,” or “nobly untruthful.” In 1991, at age 20, he broke into the master terminal of Nortel, the Canadian telecom company. Assange was caught and pleaded guilty to 26 charges; six other charges were dropped, and he paid only a small fine after the judge commended his “intelligent inquisitiveness.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s