Here Lies: New Z. Paper – Killed by the Intern Ed, 2008

Something that I always bring up in a conversation about the advancement of technology is the death of newspaper. It’s no secret that the new generation of “kids” prefer to get their news (along with other trending topics) immediately from the internet. The daily newspaper can only offer the news of yesterday, whereas on the internet you can get the news of… 2 minutes ago. Isn’t that wild? Well, I guess nothing technology-wise really surprises anyone, anymore. When was the last time you’ve seen or heard about a new technology that truly “wow”-ed you? For me, it was when the electronic toothbrush was invented —You mean I don’t have to move my hand to brush my teeth anymore? Finally, I can start brushing my teeth and no longer need to rely on Tic-Tacs! Anyways, the death of newspaper always seemed like the natural way of technological evolution. Therefore, I never considered any possible negative effects of it. Turns out, there are actually some side-effects.

While I was browsing through r/Television (a Reddit subreddit), I stumbled upon this particular article: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/panqb8/the-death-of-local-news-is-making-us-dumber-and-more-divided?utm_source=reddit.com

(If anyone else already posted this… “Great minds think alike!”, please don’t get mad.)

In short, the article is about emerging “…homogenized, facts-optional ‘must run’ segments…” on national networks following the death of local news (the newspaper or the radio). At first, it didn’t strike me as a big deal, but after reading this particular paragraph:

“Covering local town halls, political campaigns, and regional issues often requires a lot of legwork larger companies aren’t keen to pay for at scale. Still, the end result is a public that no longer really understands what’s happening in their own towns and cities, opening the door to less meaningful oversight of local politicians.”

And, seeing the video linked in that article, I realized the dangers of it: “This [method of brainwashing] is extremely dangerous to our democracy.” —Did I just say that out loud?

It’s not difficult to observe that the trust between public and national news networks have been becoming stale in recent years; one of the major reasons behind so many people resorting to online sources or social media instead. People see these news programs/channels being run by big corporations and believe that the truth lies in the hands of average citizens. The irony is, as we’ve discussed in our class, not everything online is true either. On the contrary, nearly everything posted online, whether it’s a YouTube video or an article, is created through a certain bias. Perhaps, there is a parallel between the two mediums(?). As we can see from this following quote from the article:

“…when you rely on national, highly-polarized news to inform you, you’re more likely to fall into well-worn partisan grooves, and less-likely to actually weigh an individual politician or issue on the actual merits. That, in turn, only amplifies existing entrenched ideologies, making us less likely to open our minds to new possibilities.”

It’s certainly an intriguing claim, and it’s something that can be made for online news as well. It’s all about taking sides now. The value of the individual is long gone; it’s all about us versus them. It’s a shame, really. Striving to become a better person can only be accomplished by others’ encouragement. Without it, it’s all just about getting an exclusive membership card —Our club is the best, and this other club sucks! (Does that remind you of the YouTube comments section, or what?)

It seems as if the death of newspaper (and the radio before it) scared these big corporations of going out of business —or they’re simply greedy, who knows? So, they’re doing everything that they can, devious or not, to stay in business. Do I feel sympathy here? Honestly… nope. Abusing the power that you hold, regardless of your means to an end, is undoubtedly a betrayal of trust. Why not try to earn what you need instead of forcefully (or sneakily) attempt to take it? Sidenote: This is all just an opinion piece. Do not send a lawyer to my house, please! It’s all in good fun of blog posting. Speaking of which, the following quote from the end of that article is something special:

“There’s something indisputably broken in a culture that can afford to throw millions of dollars at toddler Instagram influencers, yet somehow can’t figure out how to fund quality local journalism.”

Now, that’s how you end your article! —Oh, wait. That’s not really the end. I guess the author of the article did not wish to have a “mic-drop” moment at the end. Was he also afraid of hitting a nerve and getting a call from a lawyer? Or, perhaps he was simply being a professional… Regardless, this was certainly a thought-provoking article, and I’d suggest others to take a quick look at it. In terms of its usefulness-score for the Field Guide… Let’s go with an 8 out of 10.