Friday, January 25, 2008

Ozymandias Watches From 1 Million Screens*

I have never been a big fan of the news, and for a while, I attributed that to youth and how the news was "boring" and unnecessary for someone as young as I was at the time. But now I feel as I have somewhat of a point of argument versus just blaming my lack of age, and that argument is the over abundance of news. Once in a while, I'll get curious or attempt to better myself, and visit a news site (say, thinking that reading about world issues and what's going on outside of my immediate life will make me "better". But once I get there, I'll probably be lucky to read 3 whole news stories that arent about some new fangled technology, or advice on how to invest my money. THERE'S JUST TOO MUCH INFORMATION.

Seriously. Go to any of those websites right now and just look at how many different links and how many different news stories there are to choose from ( does somewhat of a better job; as in less links from the home page). Do you not feel overwhelmed? Where do you begin? Obviously, there are headlines: the one main one that's usually accompanied by a picture, but then next to it, maybe 10 other headlines that they deem more important than the rest. For me, it's simply too much for my senses to take at one time. How do I "test the waters" of reading on current events? It's as if they unleashed a CIWS** of information on my ass (over 3000 rounds per minute). I've reached the point of no return.

Similar, no?

What I've concluded from this (but have yet to prove) is that the good ol' fashioned newspaper is still the best way to receive the news. Of course, there are the factors of regionalized news (for example, I currently live in Pensacola, FL, but the happenings of the state of Virginia would probably interest me more) and whether or not you think the newspaper as an entity is more conservative or more liberal (I can never tell, really), but overall, I THINK I'd prefer reading the newspaper rather than going to the SAME newspaper's website. The reason? It's much neater. Obviously, the newspaper is bound by the limitations of physical paper. It isn't online, letting the company stuff as much information as they want on the page, but on the flip side, I think that forces the paper and it's editorial staff to pick and choose what is important enough to print. And THAT is what I want to read (again, yet to be proven). Reading from a physical newspaper is like quadruple distilled vodka. Only the cleanest and most filtered of news stories.

That's right. They know what's up.

On top of that, the newspaper is physically divided into sections! As I'm sure everyone knows, there's the current/world news section, finance/business section, the ever-popular and pertinent sports section, the comic section, the lifestyle section, and the media section (sometimes these last three are actually in the same section). And all of these sections, while grouped together to form the paper was a whole, are independent of each other! You can ignore the first 2 and just go straight for sports if you want! In fact, you could THROW AWAY all the other sections and ONLY read, say, the comic section! I know, I know, most of the websites for these news companies are ALSO grouped and archived based on the same headings (current/world news, finance/business, sports, etc.), BUT (and this is a picky "but"), even as you click one of those specific headings, the rest of the headings remain available to you; right there, in your face. And as I say "out of sight, out of mind". I guess I could also speculate, that though you are in a specific heading, there are no less news stories reported than if you were just on the home page, but this remains another point that will go unproven (I wish I had a facts checker working for me).

Now, there are websites like and what not that list even MORE headlines, since they take their stories (not just news; sometimes online media a.k.a. videos like that on youtube) from other online sources (some of which are the other major news companies I've previously mentioned). But despite all that, they are able to condense their information beyond simple headings. For example, Digg allows their readers to rate whether or not they are "digging" the article. If so, they can click they digg it, so that the next time a person navigates to the Digg home page, they can see "Oh hey look, 300,000 people digg this news story" and think to him/herself, "oh I'm sort of interested in that news title, and 300k people thought it was a relevant article, I guess I'll read it." You might think this might help me enjoy my online news, and you'd be wrong. Because the stories come from so many different sources, and sometimes they're not even NEWS stories (videos about what some dude did in his off time do not count; unless he discovered cold fusion or cured AIDS/cancer), I do not count sites like Digg as credible sources to receive news. It may be a fickle matter, but it matters to me.

In the end, I feel that I may never grow interested in current news. I know, it's a crying shame that I care so little about what's going on around me (especially since I am an active military member), but I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way. If I had to wager, I might say that I may be in the majority. And that may say something about society today, but I don't know what that argument might be nor do I want to get into it. All I know is that on those days I have to go to the dentist or the doctor, or maybe sometimes in a library or when I wake up to have breakfast in an eatery of sorts (McDonald's, Waffle House, take your pick), there's nothing like picking up a good ol' fashioned newspaper (until you realize I'm just reading Calvin and Hobbes; right before I move onto the Best Buy ad).

*A reference to Alan Moore's "The Watchmen" ( Don't know what it is? GO CHECK IT OUT BEFORE THE MOVIE COMES OUT.

** Wikipedia on the CIWS:

1 comment:

jenniblue said...

It's really strange to me that right now, I'm training as a news producer. I feel the same exact way you do in terms of news and wanting to find out more, because I do want to know more, but there's so many things coming at me at once that the only thing repeating itself in my head is - where the hell do I start? And being a news producer, I mean, you just pretty much have to be your own filtering system. AP wires pop up every ten seconds and you have to decide what you want to put in the newscast and what story you deem worthy of a minute versus twenty seconds. I'm really scared going into this because you know I'm pretty oblivious to a lot of things, ignorant to more, and uneducated in others, and yet, I would be in charge of a block of time where a few thousand people would depend on my words for their daily dose of news. Shit.