29 September 2009

Processed News in its Purest Form

On a flight home the other day, I put down my book (Michael Connely's Scarecrow) about an investigative reporter losing his job to watch a movie (Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck in State of Play) about an investigative reporter being demoted before coming home to read an article about the death of investigative reporting(The Story Behind the Story by Mark Bowden in this month's Atlantic).

Where the individual was once left to form an opinion about well researched stories, the news outlets have seemed to leap past all that nuance and boring litany of facts and endless prose. Instead, the modern media just provide you with an opinion with minimal time spent investigating or actually reporting.

Well, I've lived on the coast long enough to know that it's easier to ride waves than fight them. So, if investigative journalism is dead, maybe it's time to just go with this trend and offer media 3.0: all opinion, no news.

The point would be to simply provide the reader with their reaction to the news events, without hassling them with all - or any, really - of the facts. Like processed food that skips the actual food to simply provide you with fats and sugars, this news would skip directly to opinions. It might work like this.

Obama's Health Care Plan: you're outraged. (And it's true, really. Whether you can't believe what he is proposing or the opposition he's facing, you're outraged.)

Asian typhoons and tsunami earthquakes: you are so saddened by this.

Iran's plutonium enrichment program: outraged.

Toyota's recall of 3.8 million cars: shocked!

Potential reversal of Jon and Kate's divorce: outraged
.

These would not be headlines that are followed by stories. These would be the stories.

You get the idea. The one real weakness, of course, is that people may begin to realize that they have a fifty percent chance of not needing the service if they simply choose to be outraged at all the news. But for those readers who want to spend 30 seconds finding out just what ought to outrage them today, it would be an invaluable service.

This might just be the future of journalism. [Oh, and for the record? You should be outraged.]

2 comments:

wheelsonthebus said...

i don't care about jon and kate, call me a rebel

Lifehiker said...

That's why I listen to almost nothing but NPR and read only the news magazines. I need a few facts to kick off my outrage, sorrow, or laughter.

Thanks for pointing out the "fact" that most media is out to manipulate us rather than inform us.

p.s. "Scarecrow" was pretty good. Connelly was always two steps ahead of me.