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Too-Quick News, Social Platforms, and Local Papers
It’s been a month-ish of news that moves too fast for a weekly (or even weekdaily) cadence. Case in point:
This isn't a new problem, but it’s got new dimensions because of the news-media’s bad reputation, increasingly horrible economics, and the fact that a large portion of the public think “the news will find them” on social platforms like TikTok, despite that not actually being true (and some networks, like Threads, going out of their way to ensure that remains the case—because it’s just too difficult and expensive to monitor posts for mis- and disinformation).
Also? Local newspapers are disappearing, except where they’re being bought by billionaires (or run by cults), and even Apple is (seemingly) censoring news coverage it doesn’t like, when it’s able to do so.
Folks are also just following the news a lot less closely than they used to (younger people especially).
There was also a big, warranted hullabaloo over major mainstream news entities taking numbers from Hamas representatives too seriously (bungling reporting on a hospital explosion in Gaza as a consequence) and, of course, ever-present (and arguably justified) concerns about the publishers angling to replace reporters with ChatGPT-like bots.
There’s a lot of actual, meaningful, important news happening in the world right now (as is arguably always the case), but it’s difficult to focus on that when the systems meant to help us glean signal from noise, fact from propaganda, biased interpretation from real-deal reporting, are in such disarray.
It’s worrying, too, because these systems (and those who keep them ticking along) are vital to the perpetuation of things like democracy, because lacking some means of establish objective fact (or the closest we can get to objective fact, despite the fog of war that cloaks some subjects) we’re left with only what interested parties give us, which distorts perspectives and encourages motivated cognition and heightened tribal thinking.
There aren’t easy solutions to any of these interconnected problems, but an awareness of what’s going on within the meta-layer of the news industry can help us understand why we receive the sorts of information we do, why it comes to us as it does, and how we might want to parse or filter it, depending on the source, context, and other variables.