Where do you get your news? A year ago, I would have said reading news websites or reading the paper (I hate TV news). Now, I get it from reading blogs. Case in point, I learned about the NY steam pipe explosion via Rachel Clarke’s blog. Later in the day, she posted a video that captures the roar of steam escaping from the pipe. I only checked out the story through “traditional” sources (cnn.com) after reading several other blog posts on the event.
I doubt I’m the only one who gets their news through a blog “channel.” And if I were a “traditional reporter,” I’d be worried about my job. Jeff Jarvis has frequently discussed the current newspaper situation with much greater detail and knowledge than I can offer. However, from my perspective, here’s why I’m paying less attention to “traditional” news sources than ever before—I don’t know them.
We’ve gone from a time where we “invited” the evening news into our homes to not paying much attention to Katie Couric’s swan dive on CBS. Individual reporters feel replaceable, if only because they don’t want to seem too different from one another. I can flip between the broadcast networks and have difficulty identifying a particular reporter with a specific network. The other two nightly anchors, Brian Williams and Charlie Gibson, remind me more of Ken dolls with their suits, perfectly lacquered hair, and flawless makeup. The times when I see them out of “formal” wear, it seems contrived, with sleeves rolled just messy enough to look casual. I don’t know these people, and their reporting leaves me cold.
Going back to the NY steam explosion, my initial response was, “I know this person. I hope she’s ok.” After that initial gut check, then I got to see her street-level view of what was happening. It was real and immediate. No gloss and a little shaking of the video made it that much more real. That’s what I find missing in “traditional” news, whether it’s in a newspaper or on the TV.
Perfection is boring. I’d rather see actual reporters looking like they chased a story than looking perfectly groomed as they stare into a camera. When I read the news, I’d actually like to read a story and not some dry dissection of “just the fact.” Journalism has lost its edge, leaving the door open to citizen journalists. Via Riehl World View, I found a great description of this very thing with the NY story as the backdrop:
It’s now being termed a “steam pipe” explosion. But what caught my eye via Drudge was this picture. Everyone is taking video, or snapping photos with their cell phones.
I imagine they easily outnumber the journalists doing the same.
For so long, the only conduit for information was an intermediary like a newspaper or a network. The Internet, with applications like YouTube and Facebook, has dumped this reality on its head. It’s been said before, but I no longer have to wait for 5 p.m. to roll around for my news. All day long, I have access to information and news that matters to me, customized to fit my lifestyle and schedule. Frankly, I don’t know how “traditional” media will compete without a change in attitude.
I do have a special affection for newspapers, dirty fingers and all, from my time spent writing on school papers in high school and college. Some of the best stories ever told were in newspapers. I don’t want them to die, but they need to do something that might seem a little crazy in today’s news world—they need to tell a good story. A good story will stop me every time. Rachel told a good story the other day. CNN didn’t even come close.