“24-Hour News Cycle” and Information Literacy

With the average american having access to several screens at all times it’s hard to avoid the news. The concept of 24-hour news cycle refers to the non-stop investigation and reporting news that is convenient for our fast paced lives. This convenience isn’t always helpful as it may seem. This high convenience of news creates large competition between news broadcasting networks. This is largely attributed to the demand for these news sites to turn a profit and the competition involved in maintaining a viewer base. Sometimes these news networks result to a method called, journalism of assertion. This journalism practice is dangerous because it motivates reporters to report information before the competition.

The race to report into the 24-hour news cycle discourages journalists to investigate their sources thoroughly. The first part of information literacy is being able to find sources of information. The second is to evaluate the validity of that information. The 24-hour news cycle allows journalists to justify skipping the second step of information literacy. In this article the author mentions that, “reporters can ease up on verification if they merely attribute their sources.”. In other words, if they list a source that is verification enough. What good is information without concrete evidence?

Lack of verification on the behalf of the reporter leads to reduced quality of information. Which leads to non-factual news being projected to every americans’ screen. Information literacy is more important now then ever with the influx of lower quality information. This means that an ambiguous amount of information we consume on the news has no value. Only by seeking the validity of sited sources will save us from misinformation. This can be increasingly hard to remember especially when this news might agree with our values.

Deception should also be considered when absorbing news. Newscasters may format information to sound neutral and objective. Neutral voice on these 24-hour news cycles exists and acts as deception. Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel touch on this in their book, The Elements of journalism. The authors are stated, “Journalists who select sources to express what is really their own point of view, and then use the neutral voice to make it seem objective, are engaged in a form of deception. This damages the credibility of the whole profession by making it seem unprincipled, dishonest, and biased.” (Kovach and Rosenstiel 74). Not only do we have to fear blatantly false information, we have to fear information trying to manipulate our views.

These qualities of deception and misinformation are relevant to information literacy and SI 110 because because they are perfected examples of information to avoid. We have learned to avoid information that can be dismissed as merely opinion. Information that is shrouded in bias is merely glorified opinion. The high frequency of news should also encourage information consumers to clarify cited sources because being to strongly influenced by opinion is just as bad as absorbing false information as true. It is important for users to know and understand the disciplines of information literacy. Without them information consumers can fall victim to the effects of information from the 24-Hour news cycle.

Sources:

“The Essence of Journalism Is a Discipline of Verification.” Nieman Reports Comments. N.p., 15 June 2001. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Kovach, Bill, and Tom Rosenstiel. The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect. New York: Crown, 2001. Print.

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