Thursday, January 24, 2008

What is news?

As a writer, I'm technically a member of the media. I report on things that my editors think are important to their readers. But everyone I write for is writing for a specific audience. The things I report on is valuable news for them.

But what about the stuff that I see reported on CNN, Yahoo!, and other news sites?

Surely, I'm not the only person who looks at a "news" story and wonder why the whole world needs to know it. I'm not talking about sports stories (although there are some that are ridiculous) and celebrity stories. These folks, like it or not, are public figures, and just like technical publications have an audience, so do these entities.

No, I'm talking about stories like the one that is crossing the wires now, the administrator's wife who left a nasty voice mail. Or the mom who sold her (adult) son's car with the detailed ad about her being mean. Or any of a million stories like that.

Are these stories really news? Is the media doing a disservice by sensationalizing the foibles of ordinary people, as opposed to focusing on information that should matter? Or is the media doing its job by promoting slightly extreme but otherwise ordinary acts of ordinary people?

Honestly, as a writer, I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable reporting that stuff. Which, I guess, is why I don't work for CNN, et. al.

1 comment:

devonellington said...

I wouldn't want to report on those stories. But as someone who writes fiction as well as non-fiction, I'll often clip those odd little obscure items out of the newspaper and use them as fiction fodder.

Your comment on Lori's blog hit home -- making marketing part of the routine. A real "aha!" moment for me.

Early morning is my time for fiction, before I'm "tainted by the day", but if I make the marketing part of the routine of blogging, checking the job boards, etc. . . .great idea.

Thank you so much!

Devon
Ink in My Coffee