Blog / 2007-10-13b-News
What Should The News Be?
I'm going to start from a premise that I believe to be true. The news isn't what it should be at all.
So what should the news be?
Whether it likes it or not, the news helps create a foundation of shared knowledge for society. Any cultural endeavour does this. The news is of special importance because it has the express purpose of informing our world view.
When I soak up the news I don't really get that at all. At least, not in any particularly useful sort of way.
One idea is that the news is often too fine grained. There are so many countries and topics and it's difficult to see how they interrelate. (See HOWTO: write bad documentation that looks good for something related. Media/journalism as a documentation project seems like a fruitful metaphor.)
News is too preoccupied with what's happening now. When we realise that what's happening now is really just another repetition in an endless cycle, we realise that the news has to be more than just a reporting of events as they are. Partisan reporting of things as we think they should be is even worse, of course.
What the news should be is the use of the material of current events as a way of helping consumers understand the world around them.
Bombarding me with a thousand unrelated fragments of information, most of which are of no use to me, will not help me understand the world around me.
But these unrelated fragments are the vital bedrock of the news.
But to be really news they need to be related into a coherent picture. Now this is a fraught process, and generally the only people who are willing to do this for an audience have axes to grind. How to do this impartially is not easy, and it requires a good understanding of audiences, and their desires/needs.
What we need is easy ways of filtering the crazy amount of news information that there is.
Blogging and social bookmarking would appear to be interesting hints at how this can work.
The news needs to be an exchange. When people start to interact with the news, and make it themselves, then it can become relevant.
So perhaps I can make use of the general news. Whenever I see a news item, I can research it so that the information isn't just shallow information, it links into other information that I know, and really starts to inform my world view.