Sunday, April 27, 2014

On News, Bad News and Breaking News

By Rabin Man Shakya

Despite a host of components of a newspaper, such as, news, features, articles, columns, photos, editorials, interviews, book reviews, letters to editor, obituaries and so on,  news always was and is still the indispensable and essential item in a newspaper, meaning we can't imagine a newspaper without the news. On an average, 75-80 percent of space of the newspaper contents (except advertisements) is comprised by news.

News is a key and essential part of human life. I would rather skip my morning coffee, but I can't move ahead without my morning paper, many Americans in their 40-50s say. So what is news? When a dog bites a man, it is not a news, but when a man bites a dog, it is a news.

Any incident or accident that interests or affects a large number of people in a community is a news. News is something which some celebs, tycoons and pols as well as organizations and governments want suppressed. News is new and exciting information or a report about something that has happened recently.

However, technological innovations have made great strides in the qualitative development of newspapers. These innovations have unprecedented impact on the news as well. People across the world are talking not just about news, but about the breaking news.

That's because the very essence of news is changing in a world of transparent social media where it must be assumed that 'breaking news' and not just news is all that matters. Today, unlike 10 years ago, social media is a very important source as well as part of news and breaking news. There are a number of cases where  the source of breaking news happened to be the social media sites, and not the mainstream media outlets.

If today any important information or news is intentionally skipped  or ignored by the mainstream media because of vested interest, pressure or bias, that piece of information or news is immediately out in the social media sites rendering the old saying about news "News is what the newspapers print and radio and TV broadcast" as irrelevant and outdated.

There were many cases when a number of news triggered panic among the people, but we should remember it's not the stupid news which causes people to freak out but the catastrophe or accident itself. A news story just details about what (what, who, why, where, when and How= five Ws and one H) happened. So news does its thing regardless of anything. News just tries to satiate the 'ravenousness' or 'curiosity' of the people about some incidents, accidents or catastrophies.

In journalism, sadly enough, a bad news is a good news.That is why today  more than ever sex, rape, crime, violence - all are news. Good news about someone seldom gets past the door but bad news will travel a thousand leagues away. The old saying "Bad news travels fast like a bad shilling" rings true too. 

And this is also true that in a world ravenous for scoops, journalists and reporters do anything to become first to break the news. They simply forget that being first to break the news is not as important as being true and correct. 

No comments:

Post a Comment