Image Credit: Nouse
In short: yes. See what I did there? I gave a direct answer to a story’s subject and at this point, after finding the answer to the article’s headline, many of you would flick to the next article. This is especially the case when we talk about how we read online.
We scan online content as quick as we are able to, take in the bare minimum information and still get a grasp on what the news is telling us. I think that this can be a good thing: we can learn key information very fast, we aren’t totally clueless when someone brings up a big headline, we can indulge in having the attention span of a goldfish, and all the effort to achieve this amounts to a click on a story, a quick scan of the first paragraph, and a click back off.
It is also apparent that this kind of quick grab and take, to then dispose of information, bleeds through into other areas of modern life; take the desperate hurry of swiping to find a Friday night fling on Tinder. We want things instantly, this has become a norm for us, and our fast-paced culture utilises, in particular, online media platforms to expose more news at a faster rate, whereby news stories may be considered both breaking and out of date within just an hour of online publication.
So the next question is: how can newspapers possibly keep up with online platforms’ instant publishing? The answer is that they simply cannot. But this does not by any means devalue the importance of our dear newspapers.
A newspaper will provide the most relevant and carefully selected news that we need to know in a day, because there just isn’t enough space for too much feeding of nonsense.
We see one big headline on the front page, where over ten other big news stories could have taken its place. All the other options will probably make it online, but we cannot make a distinction so easily of what is important when attempting to sieve through what news is relevant when it’s all in the same place.
More worryingly online content often relies on the use of clickbait to entice readers into fake news, or at least not the whole picture, which gets muddled with real news and leads to ill-informed judgements made by readers. It is fine to come across the odd clickbait news story, even in newspapers, as they can admittedly be entertaining. But, sadly, clickbait has been used so frequently online that often people will share news stories based on clickbait, without reading the article, only to find out that inside the article the binary opposite is being argued.
Alarm bells should be ringing when we think about how we might be using poor stories like this to form our more serious opinions and judgements about say, how the country should be run. On the readers’ part, the surface level reading that is encouraged by online media means that we generally don’t have the same in-depth and reliable understanding that newspapers guide us towards.
So if you’ve made it this far, let this be a reminder that it is important to think about the way you are consuming the news as a reader. While newspapers may be dying out, and finding out information online and believing it isn’t a crime, do take the time to consume information properly, actively reach for more, whether that means checking various media platforms or, as I would suggest referring back to your trusty newspaper, especially Nouse!