This is a post about how journalists decide what is “news” and what isn’t.
'Spose it's worth noting how so much journalism depends on press releases and 'on-diary' events.
In UK journalism, the culture is incurious, aligned to the status quo (regardless of professed politics) and anti-intellectual, even with growing numbers of journalists with degrees in that topic. (Their lecturers, after all, are often old school journalists.)
Therefore, I'm not sure it's completely down to class and background, though they play a major role. Rather, it's whether or not you fit into existing mindsets within the industry - a lot like the police...
All good points and questions. All of this is why I think ProPublica is so important, since they're one of the few (large) journalistic entities that is actually trying to do stories about topics that impact people's lives.
I've subscribed and am looking forward to future newsletters. HT to Dan Froomkin for plugging your twitter feed, which led me here.
My take: 1. Most People are not that interested in stories about what things kill or damage the most people. They are more interested in shootings, robberies, political fighting, etc. These things are more entertaining to Watch.
2. The media outlets are almost all profit driven. They earn their profit by getting paid by advertisers Who are interested in getting the most people possible to see Their advertisements. So they naturally try to maximize viewership by “giving the people what they want.“ that usually means entertaining content. conservative and liberal leaning and middle of the road outlets all behave this way.
3. A few outlets (PBS, C-SPAN) are not profit driven so sometimes you see more stories about important issues.
Altruism is just a little too much to expect in our media world.
My first instinct (as a reporter evicted from the profession in '09) is that air pollution is hard to pin to a death. Autopsies won't say "air pollution," much less "pollution from the copper smelter down on the waterfront," they'll say "asthma" or something. The deaths caused by crime have a discrete cause -- a specific bullet fired by a specific person.
However, this differentiation doesn't hold up for wage theft, which is an identifiable action by a specific person against another specific person. Same for an illegal eviction. And there I think the problem goes to how we enforce these, or don't. The government doesn't try to stop or punish illegal evictions*. The government tries to stop wage theft, but not hard enough. And in all these cases, they make news because the government announces them.
I don't have a solution.
*courts will enforce judgments, but the government doesn't act as plaintiff for illegal evictions the way it will for murder or even burglary.
As an editor and writer I had to find stories that I thought
(a. people would read
(b. that were important and
(c. interesting enough to warrant the space. That was in the day of tree-based information and we had no real idea what was working until we got, usually angry feedback.
Now that we (or you, since I'm out of the game) can count every click, what is presented as "news" has changed. Much more food coverage, e.g.
It's also true that, unlike advertising, once you publish a story, you don't do again unless you have an update, some change, something worthy. It's one hit, then move on. That means advertising, through repetition, has way more impact.
The tilt towards enfotainment, the rise of talk radio and partisan TV all displace public attention from what might be "important" (Coal kills, covid kills, change the channel). Only when a personality is trusted, dynamic, succinct, dramatic and entertaining can messages be delivered through multiple media multiple times to penetrate the mostly info overwhelmed public and only when there is a revenue stream to pay the cost. Or when someone is so savvy they are covered for free.
That leaves, all too often, only a selfish, sometimes lying, government to fill the void. Lazy consumers suck up what they see and hear like alcohol and buy into their bias.
I have some hope that the U.S. (and a few others, notably BBC) tries to put out "truth" and there is an active free "press" pushback against obvious lies. Also in the U.S. some not-for-profit models are blooming. However, China and Russia prove that you can fool almost all the people almost all the time until, like the people in Russia in 1918, the truth becomes obvious - at great loss of life.
An important piece of this discussion that is mostly missing around the planet is the teaching of skepticism. If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Sadly, most education systems are focused on socialization, conformity and pacification.
On the upside, however, nowadays anyone can be a news and commentary outlet and, maybe, find an audience... like this.
I think if folks really heard the news they would take responsibility to change the status quo. https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxhvsAH1rbv_rxPsG6K3735f1zr4VyhhSe
Because kids are being lost by the millions with CPS being the largest human trafficking operation in the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLbpPnB6HK4&t=156s