Insta-news for fast-paced readers

Whether you like it or not, we live in an incredibly fast-paced society. Technology has given us the benefit and burden of turning everything into breaking news. We often know about a situation before it has even finished developing.

While this can be incredibly helpful, we have also seen the dark side of instant gratification in news: take the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act in June.

Both Fox News and CNN reported inaccurate information in the race to be the first network to break the news. In the pursuit of instant gratification and news on the fly, many Americans were led to believe a verdict that was just plain false.

Our need for instant news gratification doesn’t end with national and regional news updates.

Take Instagram and Twitter. Often, if something notable is happening around us — perhaps Mitt Romney hopping onto Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland — our instinct is to whip out our phones and document the news for all our friends. In fact, many high-profile news outlets documented Superstorm Sandy’s rampage on the East Coast through their viewers’ Instagram feeds.

Whether you just got engaged or ran into a celebrity on the mean streets of Tempe, odds are you’ll post it onto one of your social media feeds instantly.

It is my fear that we are adapting too quickly and strongly to short-form insta-news that we will soon lose all substance in conversation and reporting.

Take The State Press. The move to digital is not uncommon. Much like any type of communication, it is imperative that content be accessible. You will only be read or viewed if your work can be accessed by the people who read you most.

My problem is not with the media generators — it is with the readers. We live in a culture plagued with a disease called “TL;DR,” or “too long; didn’t read.”

We are trained to accept news in short-form via tweets or Facebook posts. If the headline doesn’t tell the majority of the story, we won’t click. And that’s what news is — it’s what we as a society have created.

News is no longer about the Tom Brokaws and Hunter S. Thompsons of the world anymore — it’s all about clicks and page views.

Readers no longer value long-form journalism. We don’t value writers who invest time to produce quality or revolutionary content. Readers want to see short blog-style news stories that can be read on the go.

There has been a lot of talk about how the Internet killed journalism.

Much like the first video played on MTV was the “Video Killed the Radio Star,” correlation, at least here, isn’t absolutely causation.

But we’ve stopped buying magazine subscriptions and we’ve stopped picking up the paper on the way to work. We gave up our Sunday New York Times crossword puzzles for a game of Sudoku on our phones. Unfortunately, readers alone are responsible for the death of print journalism.

I’ll be holding a wake for print journalism at Casey Moore’s this Sunday with my original copy of “The Catcher in the Rye,” if any of you like-minded print-junkies still exist out there.

 

Reach the columnist at caleb.varoga@asu.edu or follow him at @calebvaroga

 

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