Common Journalistic Gripes: A Listicle

Two schools of thought used to dominate the journalism world: 1) the old school, with strict adherence to fact checking, copy editing, and proof reading, making sure that journalists knew as much as they could before releasing their information to their readers in official, style-guided, publications, and 2) a newer ideology that came with the emerging digital landscape, where information is democratically disseminated quickly, and any errors are corrected by readers (online, everyone can be an editor). Now, though, increasingly, the two worlds are converging.

 

Listicles / Buzzfeed-esque News / Quizzes / The GIF + Quote Combo

   

   The founder and CEO of BuzzFeed once compared his website to “sitting at a street cafe in Paris,” where “you have a copy of Sartre’s ‘Being and Nothingness,’ a copy of Le Monde, the newspaper, and next to you, as is often the case in Paris, is a cute dog. You read philosophy; you read the news; you pet the dog. You don’t become stupid when you are petting the dog. You are just being human!”

   I don’t think the problem lies in the variety of entertainment and information available coming from one source (s/o to the Melange!), though. In December of 2014, after the senate released a summary of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program,” VICE news published an illustrated listicle called “An Illustrated A to Z of Torture,” which some thought the progressive report was important and compelling, while others found the piece insensitive. I do think that the way Buzzfeed is arranged and its use of native ads make the experience feel inauthentic, and make me feel a little uncomfortable; I’m not sure how well kitten videos and foreign policy can comfortably fit together on one web page.

   Buzzfeed doesn’t only do listicles, though; they do Real News Reporting, too. I suggest Katie J.M. Baker’s “The Accused,” about those accused of sexual assault on college campuses, to see how powerful and insightful Buzzfeed journalism can be!

 

Social Media

 

   I got a Twitter over the summer mostly to be able to more closely follow political news, because election news is constantly happening, and I thought it would be the best way to catch up. I think Twitter is amazing, and as much as there is criticism of its not-always-fact-checked, information, I praise its ability to make historically oppressed voices more heard.

   Follow Emily Nussbaum (she writes about TV shows for The New Yorker, but also tweets about the roles of race, gender, and sexuality on TV).

 

Podcasts

   

   I listen to so many podcasts, though not so much for day-to-day current events; I don’t think that audio emissions are the best way to receive up-to-date news, simply because production increases the turnover time. Instead, I listen to very heavily-reported longform stories.

   For starters, listen to 99% Invisible (art and design stories), Reply All (tech news, involving people), and the second season of Serial (the sequel to this year’s all school “read”).

   Current event awareness and media literacy aren’t issues that uniquely affect teenagers. Also, as much as we are being polluted, we are simultaneously benefitting from the digital age. The democratization of journalism is an overall beneficial thing; we are increasing our understanding of the world, empathizing with those who have been systematically silenced in the past, and challenging our now multi-faceted ideals.