We hear it all the time: news. Adjective. It’s like a drug. It keeps you coming back for more. You’re never tired of the headlines.
But what is really behind the news today? And what makes it important, in Education, Health and the Economy, to have a clear understanding of what is going on and how to interpret it to produce important decisions? The news that this morning on Capitol Hill wasn’t low key but quite far from it in terms of its importance to the year ahead. Here are three big takes on this.
Number One: the news is not really about the news at all, but about the news as an object. In Education, Health and the Economy, the news has a clear and distinctive meaning that may not be familiar to everyone. That meaning may not be familiar to the average person. But it is important to have a clear and distinctive meaning, one which is familiar to the audience and is understood, appreciated and acts as the basis for understanding. When we can do that, in Education, Health and the Economy, we improve our performance.
Number Two: in Education, Health and the Economy the news can have a profound and long-lasting impact because it speaks to deeply held values. News stories that deal with matters of school and colleges and the lives of students and faculty members can have an enduring effect upon the attitudes of other people toward issues of higher education, health and the economy in general. As for Education, Health and the Economy: when it comes to Coverage it’s important to remember that just because it is unusual doesn’t mean it isn’t worth covering. As for Cuomo: she deserves to get all the praise for a job well done.
Number Three: makes news. It is no accident that two of the three perspectives above are the most common, popular and dominant ones. The fourth perspective–local news–is by far the most difficult to dominate. No doubt about it: the personal impact made on any given day by any given event is enormous, and in the business world particularly the impact on local economies is profound.
Number Four: the news stories are about people. It could be said that the quality of news stories is determined by how people are presented. A face front page feature story (aside from a special report by some major name) is very rarely going to give a good overview, analysis or judgment. On the other hand, a feature story–even a news story–given the right kind of context will be able to do just that. Take the recent interest in European soccer, for example: there are many different cultures and nationalities represented among the different nations, and the different soccer clubs are representative of all those different cultures and nationalities. That in itself is an enormous amount of subject matter for a news story.
Number Five: the use of power in the news is omnipresent. Power is used both to shape events and to ensure that those events occur. For example, the Gulf War and the unfolding of the new Iraq war scene marked a turning point in the coverage of international affairs. That, on one level, was significant inasmuch as it marked a significant change in the range of reporting that the media provided. But beyond that there were some disturbing aspects: namely, the way in which powerful governments and corporate interests were able to manipulate or at least intimidate the media, and the implications that this has for press freedom and the integrity of the news industry in general.
Number Six: it’s a common misconception that the recent prominence of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in the overall context of news means that we are moving away from the medium of print. This is simply not the case. Social media is only now becoming more pervasive, and more specifically, it is making itself more visible. To see social media as the ultimate arbiter of news is to misunderstand how the web works: and to underestimate the value of independent newsgathering.