There are lots of questions about what constitutes news. Powerful editors decide what people read and what they don’t. Journalists decide what is worthy of investigation and what is not. Advertisers, special interests, lawyers and lobbyists defend the boundaries of inquiry against themselves or their industry. All this plays out in a delicate dance of “crowd sourced censorship” Whatever survives this gauntlet of execution becomes THE NEWS.
So, I took a snapshot of today’s news and ran it through the “History Test”:
- Lawyer for Accused Fort Hood Shooter to Raise ‘Mental Responsibility’ Issue
- Berlin 1989: The world remembers
- Modern Warfare game ’set for record’
- Virginia set to execute ‘Beltway sniper’
- FDI cleared Fort Hood Shooter one year ago
The History Test:
Now step back a few hundred years when people got their news at the central market place. Of course they would talk about the bad guys in town, the end of past regimes, the state of a “games” simulating warfare. And, they would have a very good reason to do so.
News is an integral part of the markets.
People go to the market to trade conversation in the same proportion as they go to the market to trade goods and services. It is perfectly natural for the marketplace to be the news place, the advertising place, and the monetary transaction place. It’s all so perfectly normal that we take it for granted.
The question is what happens outside of the marketplace? People need to produce stuff to bring to the marketplace. The NEWS reflects the trials and challenges of producing stuff. Therefore, according to the history test, anything that does not increase human productivity is not news.
The shrink got shrunk:
How does the exact definition of mental state of the shooter increase my personal productivity? Wacko is wacko. The Berlin Wall memorial reminds me of the promise of liberty over oppression as I strain to pay the bills. I suppose that a game about war is more productive than actual war and less productive than the Olympics. The real trick would have been to predict the future execution of the victims, not the beltway sniper – which brings us back to the FBI and the wacko psychiatrist. Again, how does this News help me pay the mortgage?
There is a big difference between least worthy news and most worthy news. If editors, marketers, journalists, and publishers are not consciously and strategically helping people to build their communities and to increase their personal and professional productivity, they will find themselves talking to an empty market place. And they are.
The real trick is to predict the future execution of a market.