Expanding the concept of “news”

by Mathew on October 4, 2007

Thanks to my mesh pal Mike Masnick from Techdirt for pointing me towards a recent column by Jeremy Wagstaff of Loose Wire (and the Wall Street Journal) that I had been meaning to post about. In the column, entitled “The Future of News,” Jeremy writes about how it’s difficult to talk about the future of news without admitting that the idea of what we call “news” has changed, and is continuing to change. As he puts its:

“There is no news. Or at least there is no longer a traditional, established and establishment definition of what is news.

Instead we have information. Some of it moving very fast, so it looks like news.”

This is partly the result of technology, in that more and more people are connected to sources of information than they used to be, even if those sources of information are friends or family on the other end of a cellphone or an MSN conversation, or a news feed. But all those connections have also expanded the definition of news:

“True, if someone hits a tall building with an airliner, that’s news to all of us. The U.S. invades or leaves Iraq; that’s news. But the rest of the time, news is a slippery beast that means different things to different people.”

And as newspapers and media websites everywhere are discovering, the news — the stuff people are really interested in — isn’t always what we put on the front page, or even the second or third page. Sometimes it’s the quirky or human-interest stories that really grab people. And yet, we routinely denigrate those types of stories.

“What we’re seeing with the Internet is not a revolution against the values of old media; a revolution against the notion that it’s only us who can dictate what is news.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Read the whole column here.

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