What’s the News?
Our century is called the age of information. Nowadays you can hardly imagine one being able to live a single day without watching TV or reading a newspaper in order to find out the latest news. But how are the “hottest” news items selected and presented for us as something worth paying attention to? Editors’ numerous concerns can be confined to three key factors.
The first reason is purely entertaining. Socrates, a Greek philosopher, claimed a human being to be an animal yearning for food and an amusing show. And whether we like it or not, there is more than a grain of truth in this statement. The choice of the news is often determined by the concern of whether the story will make a good show, which can compete effectively with other types of TV programs for the viewers’ rating.
Another equally important issue is the educational and informative value. Our fast changing society makes people highly dependent on new skills, know-hows and specific knowledge in terms of their professional success and material well-being. Moreover, even general knowledge shaping the person’s outlook is important. Newspapers and TV are popular sources of information and editors are bound to include the bits of news about the world economy, international relations, scientific and cultural achievements.
Finally, there are ideological concerns. In many countries the government strongly influences, if not controls, the mass media and editors are supposed to choose the pieces of news which prove the advantages of the existing political system. That was the case with the news programs in the former USSR and is still true for many authoritarian states.
So, next time you switch on your TV set to watch some your-country-today program, be critical and consider if the news item is a brainwash attempt, you are treated as a curious animal or it genuinely broadens your mind.