2020 Changed Our Lives and the News
One of the most interesting aspects of the news media is how it embodies the spirit of optimism via the simple act of storytelling.
After all, this is a career where people get to wake up to a day filled with unlimited opportunities to make the world a better place, either for you, or me, or both of us, depending on the stories they choose to share. Granted, that optimism is often shattered by 12 noon, when the reality of dealing with deadlines, evasive sources, and grumpy editors takes hold. But hey, nothing is perfect, even a job so important to our democracy it’s mentioned in the Constitution.
More to the point: Perfect isn’t interesting. It’s also not human. And what the news media does, at its best, is examine the human condition.
Now that our lives have been upended for more than a year, due to the pandemic, the news media has become one of our constant companions: Reuters Institute reports COVID-19 is responsible for a renewed interest in television news — local, national, and cable — and video news is, in fact, the preferred format for staying informed, which explains the growth of video in legacy news outlets formerly known as newspapers and radio. And, of course, the ability to readily access video via our smartphones ensures we remain connected to near-addiction levels.
But while 2020 is a year the public came to rely on the news, for far too many, it was a year that illustrated why, exactly, the news matters. Far too many, because far few came to regard news as necessary, and for that, the news media can own up to its faults. Car wrecks and house fires — once headlining fodder for news outlets to churn out fast and cheap — have been diminished to little more than background noise. Attention is now being paid to what people need to know, which is how to stay safe, what people can and can’t do in their communities, and how to stay afloat in business. Those are the big three of story themes, and they have played out endlessly, in a multitude of ways, over the past year. The public responded by wanting more. It’s interesting how the news media rose to the occasion where — pre-Pandemic — the classic bold-faced excuses of less staff and fewer resources were the defense for not providing quality news.
What a year it’s been.
So while it took a pandemic to get the public interested in the news again, it also reminded those in the news business how to do their jobs. And, why, exactly, they get up every morning.