The invention of the internet was both a godsend and a murderer for journalists. Over the years, the internet has allowed people to access news more easily and ditch those text-heavy print newspapers.
Humans have also used the internet to report the news in new ways to educate those who might not read a traditional newspaper about what’s going on in their world.
Looking back over the past year, it’s hard not to realize the ways that some outlets are portraying news to get people to read. The Russia/Ukraine conflict is a prime example.
BuzzFeed, a website that posts such articles like 53 Headlines You Would Only See In Canada and Neil Degrasse Tyson in Slow Motion is HIGH-larious got in on the issue. BuzzFeed articles like A 22-Step Guide to Understanding How Crimea Voted To Join Russia and Why Eastern Ukraine Might Be Next, among others, showed up in peoples’ news feeds.
This kind of approach to news might not be seen in a mainstream newspaper or news program. It isn’t intended to completely educate people about an issue, but rather give them the “fast facts”.
The internet also used the conflict to create an endless amount of memes and jokes. Russian president Vladamir Putin was often the butt of these jokes. Memes may not get the entire point across, but it forces people to look more into the origin of said meme, especially if there’s a flurry of them about the same issue. Memes tread the waters of citizen journalism, reporting news without any professional credentials.
It isn’t just the internet using certain ways to get people to consume news. Mainstream media has adopted the arts of the internet. They might use a pop culture reference to attract people.
When South African Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, whose legs have both been amputated, was on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, the media often referred to him as “Blade Runner”. They call him that because the prosthetic legs he uses when he runs look like curved blades and not because he’s Harrison Ford. Consider why the media would use this name in headlines instead of “Double amputee Olympic runner”.
This same tool was used when a Malaysia Airlines jet disappeared over the ocean. The internet couldn’t help but compare the tragedy to the TV show Lost to get people to click.
These methods of reporting news are affective. They use more modern approaches to get people to know what’s going on in the world. Those who live on the internet and isolated from the outside world can still have an idea of what’s going on in that inside world.
News is changing, people. It’s all about guides, lists and memes. What isn’t changing is the way that it should be consumed. Always remember to not believe everything you read and to get your news from multiple sources. Your grandparents will probably stick to their New York Times but these methods of news reporting may very well end up in traditional newspapers like that someday.