We’re living in an age when traditional media and citizen reporting are melding together, when citizen bloggers are being hired by major news organizations and TMZ is breaking news.
In Chapter 5 of Mediating the Message, authors Shoemaker and Reese discuss a concept called ‘networked public sphere,’ which refers to this phenomenon.
As an avid reader of Gawker media blogs, like io9.com and Gizmodo.com I frequently see what some call ‘click bait’ headlines, calling attention with loud language to coverage about more mundane topics. When the headline is just outrageous enough, it is entertaining to read the comments from readers who feel they were sold a Yugo in Bentley branding.
Elsewhere on the ‘networked public sphere’, I’ve seen a more casual and increasingly sensational take on news in the traditional media. Traditional outlets now often skew their headlines to please the audience, rather than satisfy professional standards. Currently cnn.com is urging me, on the front page, to view ‘22 Selfies of the Week’. With extensive metrics, outlets today are just trying to give the masses what they want. Apparently viewing other people’s ‘selfies’ is part of what the masses want.
I think it is possible for readers to grow jaded to the cries of crazed headlines. I wonder if that means we can expect even louder, outrageous cries for attention. I worry that a barrage of ‘fluff’ from traditional media means that consumers will take news less seriously, or that it will detract from legitimate coverage.