Media Criticism Spring 2012

Part 1: Deconstructing Super Bowl Ads

Take Comfort in Rituals

Posted on | April 20, 2012 | No Comments

Since I was little, I remember the news being a part of a daily ritual.  In the mornings,  my mom or dad would always walk outside to get the newspaper with a cup of coffee in hand.  At the end of the day, we would flip through news channels to get the scoop on the day’s most important stories.  There is no doubt that my daily ritual has changed over the last two decades.  However, the news still remains a part of my daily life.

Technological advances have forever changed the way we receive news.  I rarely ever flip through newspapers anymore, except for the occasional university paper; instead, I rely on online sources for my news.  As media expert Ken Doctor points out, digital news is now the norm, and newspapers are on the decline.  Doctor credits this shift to digital news in part to the “reader revolution”.  The reader revolution does not see newspaper content as obsolete; rather the production of the newspaper itself is unnecessary.  Doctor says that readers are finding it more favorable to have the latest news updates via an online search engine that allows us to search hundreds of news sites with just the click of a button.  Instead of waiting for the morning paper or the nightly news to get our information, we can find it ourselves instantly.  In fact, at times we seem to be in a race with each other to get the biggest news updates the fastest.

Readers are not just spoon-fed news; they get to contribute their own thoughts to what they read.  Doctor notes that readers commenting on stories is nothing new; readers have been writing letters to the editor for quite some time.  However, for the first time, the internet made it possible for people to connect with thousands of other readers. For example, I receive news updates multiple times a day via Facebook from a local Tidewater broadcast station.  This is how I heard the news of Dick Clark’s passing a few days ago.  The station, WAVY TV 10, updated their status about Clark and encouraged readers to share their favorite Dick Clark memories.  Some commented about American Bandstand, some commented about New Year’s Eve never being the same, and others criticized how the station worded the breaking news.  This example is related to symbolic interactionism.  Symbolic interactionism, a communication theory that was developed by George Herbert Mead, essentially states that we converse through the use symbols, and we assign meanings to those symbols.  Social networking sites have allowed us to redefine the way we communicate news to one another.  In the example of the WAVY TV 10′s status update on Dick Clark, hundreds of people familiar with that broadcasting station can discuss a topic of interest, even if they do not know each other.  The news story is common ground, and it brings them together.

Doctor discusses the growing connection between news and social networking sites.  He identifies the increase in the number of news companies that encourage reporters to Tweet their stories.  Writer Vadim Lavrusik also mentions the use of Twitter by reporters; however, he highlights Facebook’s “growing role as a platform for journalists to use for social storytelling and reporting“.  Facebook provides users with multiple means of content sharing and doesn’t limit them to 140 characters like Twitter does. It brings new meaning to the idea of the “Facebook News Feed”.

News will forever be a part of our lives.  Technology has allowed us to access news at an unbelievable speed, and for some, has pushed aside the need for a plain newspaper.  Readers have been given more control over their own news content; they can pick and choose which stories they want to read from thousands of online news sources.  We will always take comfort in our daily news rituals; we just may change how we get our news.



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