When we turn on the TV to watch the news or pick up a newspaper, we know that we’re not going to learn about every event that happened that day but we’ll get the highlights. But what if every news station and newspaper only covered the highlights? This is the question that we as a newspaper are struggling with, and you as a consumer should be concerned with.
Three days before the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, around 2,000 Nigerians lost their lives in what is believed to be Boko Haram’s deadliest attack. But most of us haven’t heard about this attack in recently — over a week after the attack took place. Why? Because of Charlie Hebdo. Because by the time most of us woke up on the morning of Jan. 6, #CharlieHebdo was already trending.
Let’s bring this even closer to home. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, a bomb went off outside the NAACP office in Colorado and is being labeled a terrorist attack by some. This too came and went with little fanfare from the media.
While the Paris attacks were devastating, is it fair that our social media and TV screens were all-consumed with one event and shared very little information about what was happening in Nigeria or right here in America? No, it’s not. But it’s also unclear as to what news takes priority over others.
Even so, we do know one thing that drives content, promotion and (of course) trending topics: clicks. It seems that news websites are more concerned with how many “clicks” they get in a day more than anything else; but that’s the current business model for the industry. Sadly, this means that our “trusted” news sites have become glorified money grabbers. They don’t want to report on news events that may be considered “old” or not important right now. They are more focused on what’s going to be clicked and shared and shared again. So if three articles about one event is going to get more clicks than anything else that day, why would they choose to showcase other content?
As individuals we cannot control the news content that is being thrown at us, but we can be more conscious of what we actively seek out. Instead of only looking at what’s trending or the top stories on a site’s homepage, we should dig around a little to see what else is happening in the world around us. Instead of sharing the same news article you’ve seen a dozen times on your newsfeed, share one that’s equally important to you but will enlighten your peers.