Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Some Encouraging Words

I came face to face with my own biases the other day.

I had a guest speaker in the classroom -- John McManus, director of gradethenews.org. He was asking students in my newswriting class what they thought of the current direction of the mainstream media, particularly the trend toward more entertainment and 'feel-good' stories, and less actual news.

Honestly, even though this is a journalism class, I thought a lot of my students wouldn't see it as that big of an issue...that only the over-50 crowd like me worries about this kind of thing. But you know what? I was wrong.

Here's what some of them had to say:
"How many times do you need to find out about Brad Pitt," said Gabriel Velez. "The whole celebrity thing...we have so much of it. How much more can you take before it just gets boring?"

"I'd prefer that the news media would give me the news that I need to know...what's going on with our government...avian flu," said Victoria Gothot.

The PR majors were concerned too.
"If it affects the quality of news, PR is affected," said Kao Saechao. "If the news media isn't reaching the public, PR loses a venue."

You know, sometimes it's nice to be wrong.


Anonymous said...

I agree with the rest of my classmates. It is true that celebrity news is getting a little "played-out"; meaning that it's the same story over and over again. Personally, I have so much going on in my life I don't care too much about what is going on with celebrities...it's not going to benefit me at all. It's nice to hear news that affects me and my every day routine. It's seems as though my interest has made a 360*. If you would have asked me what was "news" a couple of years ago, it would have been all celebrity talk; now it is issues that are affecting me and the world around us.
-Charlene Crooks

Ryan Berg said...

I don't necessarily think that they lean toward "feel good" stories. More often than not when I'm watching the news, most of the stories I see usually deal with crime and the justice system. It seems to me that the everday news that has to deal with things like government, and things that can affect you just aren't as intersting and attention grabbing as things like crime. I guess it's kind of ironic in a way.

Heidi Romswinckel-Guise said...

I was not there for the actual discussion in class, but it seems like it was a good one. I also agree with my classmates that I want to hear news about stuff that actually matters. Yes, it is kind of fun to hear about celebrities' lives and whatnot, but what does that have to do with me? It can be entertaining at times, but as Gabriel said...how many more times do you need to hear it? Once is enough. I feel like a lot of the media on TV is repetitive when it comes to what's going on with celebrities. Unless that celebrity is doing something that can benefit others, I don't need to hear about it more than once. It gets old fast. So yes, I agree that even the youth of today do care about what kind of information is presented by the media, and it's not the just the over 50-group.

Mayra Tostado said...

Mainstream media seems to be leaning toward more entertainment and 'feel-good' stories in order to attract a larger audience. It is more than apparent that although many people watch tv, most of them are not tuning in to watch the news. Instead, they are more concerned with watching reality tv to ascertain how many bugs a person can eat in two minutes for 50 dollars or to figure out who's dating who in Hollywood. Furthermore, the over-50 crowd craves real and meaningful news more than people in their early twenties, who lean toward trends and fashion. Although people in our class rejected the idea by offering statements contradicting it, one has to realize that the group the information being presented to was comprised of college students seeking to become more educated than what a high school diploma has offered them. In addition, I am sure the response would have been different if Mr. McManus would have presented the information to a group of freshmen or people not majoring in a journalism related career.
In response to mainstream media being more worried about letting their audience know why Angelina Jolie is mad at Brad Pitt, I would advice the San Jose Mercury News to leave that information to gossip magazines. If the SJMN feels that it can not sell as many newspapers as it could if it involved more entertainment than actual news, it should either work harder to advertise its product and make people interested in news or it should convert to a gossip magazine. What else can I say? The SJMN should answer the following questions: Got news? And if not, W.W.J.D?