Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What Does 'News' Mean to You?

Isabella Andersen

Did you hear about the Miley/Nicki feud? What about the latest Kardashian scandal? 

Language is what we make it; that is why colloquialism and jargon shape much of our speech. It is also why the word 'news' means different things to different people, and while I hear my coworkers discussing the latest celebrity break-ups, I wonder aloud whether we are reading about the important news items, or if we are hearing about them at all in these days of news via Facebook,Twitter, and YouTube. What about Syria, Libya, Pakistan? In response, a colleague suggests that maybe it is better if we don't read about the current state of the world. It's all too dismal for her. Then, she announces to the office that she refuses to read the news and asks me to stop discussing it, "But did you hear about Miranda and Blake? That's the only news that matters to me."

People often blame the media for all that is wrong with today's world. According to my grandmother, the media is to blame for our body-image issues, my coworker's inability to tolerate the truth, our lack of interest in important political events, because online journalism only propagates 'adicles' (ads that appear to be news articles), tabloid-level gossip, fake celebrity feuds, and one-hundred-and-one reasons for us to hate ourselves.

Perhaps the problem isn't that the media only feeds us a steady diet of empty calories in the form of celebrity gossip. Maybe the problem is that we get our news from the internet, where information of all kinds can be found in abundance. Websites such as Buzzfeed and mix current events news articles with ads posing as articles and click-bait articles about the latest celebrity baby name, and just maybe we are compelled to take the bait and find out if Kimye's new baby's name is going to be crazier than the last.

I try to read only credible sources of news, but I, like a growing number of internet users, follow news outlets on Facebook. When a CNN article appears in my newsfeed, I click and devour the article. And even though I try to only click 'news' as I define it, I have, from time to time, dived face-first into a celebrity gossip article disguised as breaking news, only to be sucked into a black hole of celebrity gossip, as I click link after link to figure out how the feud started.

Maybe the media isn't to blame for all that is wrong in the world. Maybe, when faced with choosing between the harsh realities of this life and a little celebrity gossip escapism, we choose the latter, easier article.

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