October 20, 2014

THOMAS | News or No?

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By DEON THOMAS

We are getting to a time where it is getting more and more difficult to separate entertainment from news. With an increasing amount of sensationalism in journalism and Buzzfeed articles that continue to defy all expectations in simplifying the English language we must be more vigilant about what we are reading. Scrolling through my Facebook timeline produces far more videos, Buzzfeed articles and Upworthy links than any investigative articles from respectable publications. Even when approaching the reporting of news channels, the amount of actually reporting of national and especially international news seems to be at an all time low. As of late, I have learned more from hashtag activism on Twitter than I have from news reporting.

I only want to seek the source of this shift in the reporting of news. Publications, for some reason, have decided to spice things up by making their work less factual and investigative and have sought to add sensationalism and “fun” instead. Websites that have chosen to profit from this method seemingly altogether appear to be getting more shares and reads than those that refuse to make such a monumental shift. Has the American public truly lost its interest in information and replaced it with a drive to read for fun and humor? Has the American public finally lost its drive to learn and educate itself? Growing up, I always read from blogs and other sources that foreign countries see America as ignorant, prideful and self-absorbed. However, I refused to believe in that stigma. Recently, it is hard not see these foreign beliefs as factual. Now that I go to a school with such a plethora of international students I am always surprised with their wide knowledge of the world that my other peers seem to lack.

The source of this lack of knowledge must still be determined. Is there a lack of American publications sharing with us worthwhile knowledge or simply doing a bad job of attracting us to read it? Or is the American public simply not reading worthwhile information and therefore forcing American publications to retaliate by giving us what we seek? I believe that the later option is the correct reason. We must, at the end of the day, realize that newspapers, television news and other sources are merely businesses and as such must appeal to the masses of readers. In that realization, I must implore you to read The New York Times before you check Buzzfeed and find out “Weird Things Couples Do When They’re Sick.”

However, I truly fear that the attention span of Americans has shrunken far too small. It seems that if an article lacks pictures and bullet points, no more than the first paragraph can be read. I honestly do not know how to attack this issue. Should The Washington Post drop everything and give in to increasing demand to simplify everything, and rather make everything more aesthetically pleasing to readers? Or should they continue the crusade to educate the American public? Should I and like-minded people start protesting the simplification of education because we believe it is dumbing down for its readers? Or rather, should we attempt to reconcile the simplification with investigative and informational journalism? I honestly do not know which methods are better. Am I holding on to a pastime that is all but lost or am I fighting the noble battle? However, if you continue indulging yourself with nonsense articles and you have nothing to talk about except the “22 Photos Every Sorority Girl Will Recognize” please comprehend that it’s not me, it’s you.

Deon Thomas is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at dthomas@cornellsun.com. It’s Not Me, It’s You appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

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