The News Continuum
There’s always been news. There’s always been a continuum of what’s considered news by audiences and what’s not.
But what’s been lacking has been information, wisdom, and knowledge.
The continuum of what’s news has been debated for years by those delivering the content, and is now heating up with accusations of biases, “fake” news, propaganda, and “false flags.”
Of course, with the rise of social media, it has become infinitely easier for all manner of actors without the best of intentions, to engage in the process of deciding what’s news and what’s not.
The continuum, though, breaks down like this:
“not news” — Seemingly “obvious” information that very few people find relevant, interesting, or factual, but that some find to be a resource. Information that is classified as “not news” usually is dismissed by whatever mainstream reporting outlet seeks to gain power from holding onto it.
“fake news” — What used to be classified as propaganda at the most extreme end and gossip at the least extreme end, “fake news” is a term that’s currently being thrown around with abandon, not because the information is spurious (it might well be) but because the distributor of the information is perceived as being biased.
“false news” — This is information that isn’t “obvious” but also isn’t “non-obvious.” It is the information of a cloistered group of people (or a tribe) who have insider knowledge and seek to use their access to distributors and purveyors of news to sow the information to a broader public that isn’t privy to their knowledge. “false news” exists not only in the gray areas between who’s “in” and who’s “out,” but also it exists as a weapon and a wall to keep people silent — or ignorant — of all the facts of a situation.
“news” — Is exactly that: Information that is new that provides facts to an audience unaware of the facts before. This is in the middle of the spectrum, for two reasons: One, in an information-saturated culture, it’s hard to determine what audiences know and don’t know more now than ever before. Two, as audience choice of what information they have access to, has gone up, audience attention spans have gone down.
“old news” — Is information that seems to have gained traction by audiences coming to a consensus that they are bored of hearing about it. In the modern media landscape, that which is old is determined by how few clicks it gets from the audience.
“new news” –This is the hardest to describe, identify, and attain in an information landscape dominated by Google. No information seems “new” to an audience trained on a diet of irony, sarcasm, and short attention. “new news” should inspire and delight and expose information, wisdom, and knowledge never before considered.
The drivers of all of this are the audience. And the conflict between the audience, and the people with the cameras, the audio equipment, the websites, the networks, and the bandwidth is going to get more and more divisive as audiences drain the lifeblood of attention away from what used to be universally agreed upon as news, and move on to create their own identities, outlets, and perspectives.
And they do so without asking for permission, or forgiveness.